Smithsonian games exhibit draws 686,000 attendees

Six-month run for "The Art of Video Games" attraction at Washington, DC museum closes with attendance north of half-a-million.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum's "Art of Video Games" exhibit has proven popular. Curator Chris Melissinos revealed through Twitter recently that 686,406 people ventured to the Washington, DC attraction during its six-month run. The exhibit opened in March and closed last week.

The Smithsonian's gaming exhibit is now closed.

"The Art of Video Games" highlighted the evolution of the medium in the last 40 years. Its celebratory opening weekend featured discussions with industry founding father Nolan Bushnell and Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima.

On display at the exhibit were 80 games (voted on by the public and an advisory board) that demonstrated the evolution of the industry. Galleries included images and gameplay of these titles, as well as video interviews with developers and artists.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and is a big UCONN athletics fan.

Discussion

51 comments
Double_Wide
Double_Wide

I went to this. It was smaller than I thought it was going to be but still pretty cool nonetheless

Crush_Project
Crush_Project

cant wait till they add the next chapter: the video game crash of 2013...

tgwolf
tgwolf

Well it's a good thing they started such an exhibit now, too bad it's on the tale end of the era of lesser evils compared to the content that finds it's way in too many video games.

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

So roughly over 100k visitors a month. Is that good compared to their other exhibits?

Eliphs
Eliphs

The number isn't great but it isn't terrible either.  The Smithsonian can attract upwards to 30 million visitors a year so...if you compare it to that number yeah it's not great.  But considering the newness and vague 'validity' a lot of non-gamers feel towards video games, the number isn't shocking either.  That said, a lot of groups in DC, university clubs and Video Games Live teamed up with the exhibit, which makes it awesome to this gamer.

xtraflossy
xtraflossy

600,000..... is that "under performing" , average or great?  I wish they gave an example to compare it to as I have no idea as to the actual numbers museum exibits bring.

This could be a success story or a fail. 

AZE160
AZE160

If i was a member of the White House, I'd probably get a free pass at this

tightwad34
tightwad34

If I wasn't so far away I would go in a heartbeat.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

Can't wait for this to come to the Northwest.

DaBao1988
DaBao1988

To be more specific, like in the Rennaissance for example, historians could examine the paintings and sculptures to conclude that Europe was Christian during that time and was culturally influenced by the ancient Greeks. They could also tell by examining artwork the political environment and concerns of different civilizations. But video games are so stuck in their own fantasy universes that one cannot discern anything about a civilization by looking at videogames. They are truly void of any cultural relevance whatsoever, and their obsessively sexual and violent content make them not only meaningless, but near-pornographic.

FinalKloud
FinalKloud

it was poorly constructed, you guys didnt miss anything, a ign "best of list" is more satisfying than this exhibit was.

the_real_luigi
the_real_luigi

They have a great idea but the museum lacks a lot of video game systems that were released. For a museum such as the Smithsonian you would think that they would contain every video game system ever created. Shoot! My video game system collection is bigger than theirs. However, it is a great start and I hope that they soon take care of that.

CodingGenius
CodingGenius moderator

I went, took pics.  It was great to see games in the same museum as other great Americana, but the way the exhibit was constructed kind of sucked.

NTM23
NTM23

If this is at all the same as the one that was going on in DC months ago, it really isn't all that exciting, and is a very small section. My brother went there and took pictures.

DaBao1988
DaBao1988

What a disgrace! This exhibit devalues the Smithsonian institution and art itself. Video games are not art because they have no cultural relevance, and a lot of games are too obsessed with violence and sex to be taken seriously as forms of art. I enjoy games for what they are: toys. No more, no less.

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

Umm the attendance for the Smithsonian Art of Videogames exihibit is almost the same as the city I live in 686,000. At least that many people are interested in the art of Games.

cmacinnis
cmacinnis

Would be nice if they mentioned what games were on display... that was the whole point of reading this article for me...

HAZCHEM88
HAZCHEM88

It would be good to know which 80 games they were.

terrascythe
terrascythe

Damn--that should have been 686,407.  I was just in DC and at the Smith!  Didn't see it advertised anywhere but I didn't go to the Art building.  I'll have to catch it on the road.  Here are the next locations for the exhibit:

--Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida (through January 20, 2013)

--EMP Museum in Seattle, Washington (February 16, 2013–May 13, 2013)

--Phoenix Art Museum in Phoenix, Arizona (June 16, 2013–September 29, 2013)

--Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York (October 25, 2013–January 19, 2014)

--Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, New York (February 15, 2014–May 18, 2014)

--Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio (June 19, 2014–September 28, 2014)

--Flint Institute of Arts in Flint, Michigan (October 25, 2014–January 18, 2015)

--Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia (February 13, 2015–May 10, 2015)

--Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, Tennessee (June 6, 2015–September 13, 2015)

--The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University in Miami, Florida (October 9, 2015–January 25, 2016)

HailHellfire
HailHellfire

they had an exhibit just like this in Portland Or, it was video game heaven...

you only paid $7 bucks & could play on arcade & other video game machines, old & new games...

 

i went twice & made the second day my outing with my friends where we just played games all day there.. 

the luxury of not having to waste more money on quarters

MW2ismygame
MW2ismygame

Now that is cool, i would love to return to the Smithsonian to see more exhibits like this. 

 

and GS, please have more articles like this !! this is good gaming news.

8smokes
8smokes

I live in DC now, and I can't believe I didn't go to this exhibit before it closed >_>

 

SolidTy
SolidTy

This is more like it, actual game related news...

 

The only issue I would have is "On display at the exhibit were 80 games (voted on by the public and an advisory board)". :(

 

Still, games getting positive attention is nice for us.

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

Excellent!  If I had been in DC while this was going on, I would definitely have gone.  Glad to see it had such a warm reception.

treepop99
treepop99

Ha! I was just in DC and stumbled upon this by accident.  My wife said "this is cool, but you already own most of these systems".

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

who voted for the games?  The list is absurd

c0kemusheen
c0kemusheen

This is great. The Smithsonian really is something to behold, and this adds even more to it. :)

MachShot
MachShot

Ironic Kojima is a part of this. Because Kojima once said "video games are not art (http://kotaku.com/150043/kojima-says-games-are-not-art), which I agree with him. Basically, what he says is that a video game is a product that entertains people.

 

The best way to put it is according to an example I read somewhere but forgot the person who made the original suggestion. It goes like this: a concept car is art. You don't have to know how to drive or even know what a car is to be captured by it. But the version you buy off the lot is just a product that you put gas in, drive it, and gets you to places.

jimrhurst
jimrhurst

 @DaBao1988 I'm sad for you with that narrow view.  It must be the choice of "toys" you choose to interact with.  Sure, Saints Row isn't art anymore than The Expendables film is art.  But you can't throw out all film as worthless because some of it is pure entertainment.  What of Kill Bill or other Tarantino fare?  Definitely violent and sexual and yet many consider it art.

 

Kojima's games practically _are_ movies, as are David Cage's games.  So to draw the line seems almost silly there.  And they explore all manner of human emotion and relationship. 

 

How about Okami, is it art?  Shadow of the Colossus?  Visually they sure would seem to be art.  And in this case The Smithsonian exhibit theoretically focused on the visual.

 

Lastly to say they are void of any cultural relevance is truly narrow minded.  You can make references to a variety of video games at this point and have large segments of society understand your message.  They are embedding themselves in the culture of those who grew up since the advent of in-home game consoles (for better or for worse).

terrascythe
terrascythe

 @DaBao1988  The Smithsonian also has alot of mummies on display.  That's dead bodies.  I hardly think anyone considers a dead body art, but they call the mummies Natural History and people file in-line to look and take pictures.  Perhaps this exhibit shouldn't have been featured in the Art building, maybe it's better suited to the History building.   Nobody can deny that games are created with an artistic style, but 1,000 years from now videogames will be considered part of history, not art. 

 

Videogaming is a very young industry.  Nobody has properly classified videogames and the question about their artistic value is worthy of debate.  They might not be art [I think they are], but they are certainly part of history. 

okassar
okassar

 @DaBao1988Honestly, I don't see too many trolls on Gamespot. Sometimes comments are so genuinely ridiculous that they may seem like trolling but are not. However, you are an actual troll.

 

Do not feed the troll guys.

 

CodingGenius
CodingGenius moderator

 @DaBao1988 "No cultural relevance"?  Really, that is the same tired argument that was used against TV, movies, and radio before that.

x-TwilighT-x
x-TwilighT-x

 @DaBao1988 As a graphics editor, and artist, I wholly disagree with this.

Grant it, I don't view a lot of games as "Art" however, there are a many number that do chalk up to art. However I don't think I could make the point any more clear than what NTM23 said.

SomeOneInaHat
SomeOneInaHat

 @DaBao1988 Too much sex and violence to be taken seriously as a true art form? The art world is full of dark and light emotional mediums that exist only to entertain the creator. The depictions of Saturn Devouring his First son rings a few bells. Video games at their essence are a collaborative effort put forth by groups of musical artists, animators, visual artists, and many many more to create a piece of work that the creators create whole-sale for whomever they please. Games as a statement is too general when discussing the topic at hand; misunderstanding the overall function paints a picture of ignorance. Sure, game can be violent or morbidly sexual towards women, but these few examples that you, DaBao1988, bring forward to the argument are null and void when compared to the overall inspiration video games have impacted on our lives. Video games!

NTM23
NTM23

 @DaBao1988 You could say the same for film, but you probably wouldn't. I'm not into the art vs not art debate, but I hate when people say games aren't art and all they're there for is to just have fun. I mean, they are there to for entertainment value, but as someone that loves games as a hobby, I absolutely hate when people put games down to that level, which I do feel is putting it down. It's almost like when people say games are for kids.

okassar
okassar

 @terrascytheFlint, Michigan but not Chicago? That doesn't make sense, a lot of bands skip Chicago too. Haters.

strayfies
strayfies

 @treepop99 Same, I stumbled on it without knowing.  It was neat, but didn't really encapsulate gaming so much as brands. 

terrascythe
terrascythe

 @MachShot  I think Kojima's quote is lost in translation.  In the strictest sense, the source of inspiration, is the only true art.  The message is art, but the messenger is not, and the interpretation of the message isn't art either.  He also said--  "It's something of a service. It's not art. But I guess the way of providing service with that videogame is an artistic style, a form of art."

HAZCHEM88
HAZCHEM88

 @MachShot I disagree. Games are most certainly art. They combine creativity with mental stimulation.

Meta-Gnostic
Meta-Gnostic

 @MachShot If movies are considered to be an art form then so should games. One could also say games have moments of being art, maybe not the entire game but at certain points in the game it becomes art. If that occurs then one could say the entire game is therefore art because you can only reach the art-point in a game by playing the entire game up to that point.

DaBao1988
DaBao1988

 @jimrhurst It's classic video game fanboy-ism to personally attack someone for daring to have a different point of view. Just because I have an honest opinion doesn't mean I'm narrow minded. You have shown yourself to be narrow-minded by personally attacking me for my opinion. Get out of your mother's basement and develop some interests.

 

I stand by what I said. Just because something looks pretty doesn't mean it's art, and just because you call something art doesn't make it art. The twisted pile of junk metal that stands outside my college campus library is called art, but in reality it's just a pile of junk devoid of any meaning and cultural insight.

 

Real art moves civilization forward by idealizing the future and shedding light on the injustices of the past and present. In-so-doing, art also reveals trends in society that historians can later excavate for information about the past. Video games do not carry out any of these functions.

NTM23
NTM23

 @DaBao1988 Ughhhh! I keep making mistakes when I type. It's annoying.

x-TwilighT-x
x-TwilighT-x

 @terrascythe  @MachShot But if explosions of pixels can inspire, does that not make them art? I've been inspired and moved by a number of games. Based on their musical score, their graphics, and the story.

jimrhurst
jimrhurst

 @DaBao1988  @jimrhurst I didn't feel calling your position narrow-minded was a personal attack.  But telling me to "get out of my mother's basement" clearly was.  I don't have to defend myself to you or anyone else, but since I'm here, I'll just mention that I'm over 30 years old, I have a wife and two kids, and I helped _build_ my mother's house (which has no basement, as it happens.)  And since we're name-calling now, you're a pretentious snob and society will thankfully leave you behind.  Good day sir.