Museum showcases artistic side to gaming with new exhibition

Blake Howell and Blake Howell

The Art of Video Games, an extremely popular exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, will make its first and only debut in Ohio at the Toledo Museum of Art on Thursday.

The exhibition, created by former chief evangelist and chief gaming officer for Sun Microsystems, as well as guest curator for the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Chris Melissinos, aims to demonstrate the evolution of gaming as an artistic medium.

The exhibition will play host to 80 of the best games on 20 different gaming systems, as selected by over 119,000 people in 175 different countries. Each system and their games will be placed into five different sections determined by the systems’ eras. Each section will also hold one playable game (set for a time limit of five minutes), allowing users to have a more in-depth interaction with the exhibition.

As the plea for video games to be taken as a serious art form increases, point curator for the exhibition and Amy Gilman, associate director of the Toledo Museum of Art, said they were extremely excited to bring the exhibition to the museum. They knew the attraction would be extremely fun and popular for the summer, as well as for the movement and meaning of art in general.

“It’s important for us to be able to have exhibitions that are really related to, and comes from, popular culture,” Gilman said. “[Popular culture] is something both influenced by art-making, and influences art-making as well.”

Director of the Toledo Museum of Art Brian Kennedy agreed with Gilman and said the TMA is first and foremost an art museum, not a science or technological one. Therefore, because the exhibition exists in the TMA and numerous other art museums across the country, it serves as a standing proclamation to what is defined as art.

“We’re seeing huge creativity and great variety [from video games], and they’re becoming very much a sophisticated art form,” Kennedy said.

The Art of Video Games opens to the public June 19 starting at 10 a.m., followed by a free presentation and book signing from Chris Melissinos on Friday at 7 p.m. Saturday will also commence the exhibition’s opening party at 8 p.m., which is also open to the public.

The opening party will have dancing, food trucks, a cash bar and a rock-paper-scissors tournament of larger-than-life proportions, among many other activities. The opening party is $20 for nonmember adults and $10 for nonmember children.

The Art of Video Games promises to be unlike any other exhibition around and will be at the TMA until September 28.