Exhibition Details

Location: Steele Gallery
Dates: June 16, 2013
to September 29, 2013


The Art of Video Games, which travels from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is one of the first exhibitions to explore the forty-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies. It features some of the most influential artists and designers during five eras of game technology, from early pioneers to contemporary designers. The exhibition focuses on the interplay of graphics, technology and storytelling through some of the best games for twenty gaming systems ranging from the Atari VCS to the PlayStation 3. Eighty games, selected with the help of the public, demonstrate the evolution of the medium. The games are presented through still images and video footage. In addition, the galleries will include video interviews with twenty developers and artists, large prints of in-game screen shots, and historic game consoles. Chris Melissinos, founder of Past Pixels and collector of video games and gaming systems, is the curator of the exhibition.

A companion book, The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect, co-authored by curator Chris Melissinos is available for purchase online and in the Museum store. Published by Welcome Books in cooperation with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the book examines each of the 80 featured games, providing a behind-the-scenes look at their development and innovation, and commentary on the relevance of each in the history of video games.

The Art of Video Games Tickets

Tickets for this special exhibition are included with General Admission and available at a special discounted rate during the Museum’s Free Wednesdays 3-9pm and First Fridays 6-10pm. 

Special Discounted Rate: Adults $8, Youth (6-17) $4, Free for Children (Ages 5 and under), and Free for Museum Members.

Exhibition Related Programming

Meet the Curator
Works of Game
Educator Workshop - How Games Teach

PhxArtKids Day - Pixel Picture
PhxArtKids Day - Family Game Design Challenge
PhxArtKids Day 
Under 21 - High Score Tournament
Intergenerational Game Play

Artist Arcade
The Art of Making a Video Game, Live Demo
Game Design Challenge
Cosplay Life Drawing Studio
Emoticon/Emoji Tours
Game Truck
Archiving Gaming
Games & Impact, Round Table

Performance - A Night in the Fields
First Fridays

Members Preview Day
Upper Level Members Reception
Conversation with a Curator

The Wizard
The Gamer Age
Playing Columbine
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Second Skin
The Last Starfighter
Run Lola Run
The Matrix
Indie Game: the Movie

Image Credits

Left: Tomohiro Nishikado, original concept, adapted by Rick Maurer, Space Invaders, 1980. © 1978 TAITO CORPORATION. All Rights Reserved. Middle: Hiroshi Yamauchi, executive producer; Shigeru Miyamoto, producer; Takashi Tezuka, lead director. Super Mario World, 1991. Nintendo of America, Inc. Right: Pete Parsons, executive producer; Marcus Lehto, art director; Joseph Staten, writer and director of cinematics; Jason Jones, project lead, Halo 2, 2012. © 2012 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission from Microsoft Corporation.


Exhibition Sponsors

The exhibition is organized by The Smithsonian American Art Museum. The video footage of this exhibition was made possible by a grant from the Flinn Foundation.