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The Art of Video Games exhibition celebrates creativity and technology

Explore the 40-Year Evolution of Electronic Gaming at the Chrysler Museum of Art

NORFOLK, Va. (Feb. 1, 2015)—The Chrysler Museum of Art becomes a gamer's paradise with the Smithsonian American Art Museum's groundbreaking exhibition The Art of Video Games. The show explores the 40-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, from their modest pixelated beginnings to the stunning, lifelike graphics of today. The interactive exhibition previews to Museum Members (and others who purchase tickets) on the evening of Feb. 13, and remains on view through May 10, 2015. Admission is free.

In a mere four decades, video games have come to dominate American popular culture, infiltrating almost every aspect of our modern visual culture, said Jeff Harrison, Chief Curator at the Chrysler Museum. "They are breathtakingly inventive, endlessly entertaining, and all-pervasive, but one question seems to remain: are they art? This exhibition answers that question with a resounding yes."

By tracing the technological timeline, The Art of Video Games demonstrates how the medium has emerged as an art form of its own—comparable to film, animation, and performances, said Harrison. From Atari to PlayStation 3, the exhibition focuses on the interplay of graphics, technology and storytelling through some of the best games from 20 different gaming systems. Through still images, video footage and interactive displays, visitors can explore the fantasy worlds of more than 80 games, as well as the artistic vision of their creators.

Video games are designed to create an interactive experience, and this exhibition gives viewers the chance to interact with the art. Visitors can play five featured games, one from each era of video game development. The playable games—Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst and Flower—showcase techniques that video game artists continually built upon to upgrade gaming into the superior experience that is today.

"Video games are a prevalent and increasingly expressive medium within modern society," said Chris Melissinos, former chief gaming officer for Sun Microsystems and guest curator of the traveling exhibition. "In the 40 years since the introduction of the first home video game, the field has attracted exceptional artistic talent. Video games, which include classic components of art, offer designers a previously unprecedented method of communicating with and engaging audiences by including a new element, the player, who completes the vivid, experiential art form by personally interacting with the game elements."

Related programs include:

Exhibition Opening Party
Thursday, Feb. 13 from 6–10 p.m.
Celebrate the opening of this groundbreaking exhibition with DJed music, light refreshments and a cash bar, a photo booth, and a chance to play vintage video games. Cost: Free for Museum Members and children, $10 for all others. The preview party is generously sponsored by Astro Entertainment.

Free Family Day: E For Everyone
Saturday, March 14 at 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Dress as your favorite video game character to travel through the ages and find great treasures. Cost: Free.

Third Thursday: Game On!
Thursday, April 16 from 5–10 p.m.
Throw down the virtual gauntlet at our GameStop Gaming Tournament. Challenge family and friends to beat your high scores while you enjoy friendly competition, live electronic music, and a cash bar at this eclectic evening. Cost: Free for Museum Members, $5 for all others.

The Art of Video Games is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, with generous support from Entertainment Software Association Foundation, Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins, Shelby and Frederick Gans, Mark Lamia, Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, Rose Family Foundation, Betty and Lloyd Schermer, and Neil Young. The C.F. Foundation in Atlanta supports the museum's traveling exhibition program, Treasures to Go.


The recently expanded Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, is one of America's most distinguished mid-sized art museums, with a nationally recognized collection of more than 30,000 objects, including one of the great glass collections in America. The core of this collection was given to the Museum by Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., an avid art collector who donated thousands of objects from his private collection to the Museum in 1971. In the years since Chrysler's death in 1988, the Museum has dramatically extended its campus and developed new ties with the Norfolk community. It now has rapidly growing collections, especially in the fields of contemporary glass, American art, photography, and 21st-century art.

In 2011, the Chrysler opened a full-service glass studio with a 560-pound capacity furnace, a full hot shop, a flameworking studio, nine annealing ovens, and a coldworking shop. In addition, the Chrysler administers two Federal-period historic houses in downtown Norfolk: the Moses Myers House and the Willoughby-Baylor House.

The Chrysler Museum of Art, One Memorial Place, Norfolk, and its Perry Glass Studio at 745 Duke St., are open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The Historic Houses on E. Freemason Street are open weekends. Admission is free. For more information on exhibitions, events, and programs, call (757) 664-6200.


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