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Art of Video Games exhibit boots up today PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT, Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Thursday, 19 June 2014 09:02
The Nintendo game “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” from 2006 is one of the games included in “The Art of Video Games” at the Toledo Museum of Art. (Provided by Toledo Museum of Art)
Talk about aesthetic whiplash.
The Canaday Gallery in the Toledo Museum of Art, which most recently was designed to evoke the stately Tuileries Gardens at the Louvre in Paris, now has a completely different look.
The gardens have given way to the video game arcade, with flashing lights and blips, bleeps and bells. The gallery is now the home for The Art of Video Games, a touring exhibit assembled by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
The show, which opens today and continues through Sept. 28, traces the evolution of video games from the earliest iterations of Pac Man into the newest generation of fantastic storytelling in photorealistic 3-D animation.
Museum Director Brian Kennedy said the museum made "a very deliberate" effort to attract this show, which has been touring the United States including stops at Boca Raton, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona. Toledo is the only Ohio stop.  
"This is the first seriously curated effort to study the history of the art of video games," he said.
The exhibit includes five games - Pac-Man (1980), Super Mario Brothers (1985), The Secret of Monkey Island (1990), Myst (1995) and Flower (2009) - that visitors can play. Another 75 are displayed with interactive features providing details about their design and history.
Kennedy, who said he would be considered a gaming neophyte, said the result is "exhilarating."
Amy Gilman, associate director of the museum, said the sheer amount of technology was a challenge. That includes multiple projections and speakers. "It's not our usual show," she said.
"We decided it should feel a little crowded. We wanted it to feel like you're walking into an arcade."
So the sounds from one game bleed just a little from one game to another. The room lighting is dim with the game screens providing much of the illumination.
Visitors should be immersed in the atmosphere, Kennedy said. Throughout the ages, viewers have experienced art in different ways, and using technology, video game designers have provided to ways to experience art. Video of players' expressions shows how immersed they are in the games.
Gilman said the museum expects to draw people who don't usually come to the museum for this show.
For visitors not familiar with the technology, the museum has hired a cohort of young adults who will be present when the show is open to assist patrons and reboot games as needed.
Admittance to the museum is as always free, and the exhibit is free as well. The museum, Gilman said, will also display three video works in the permanent collection to show the link between game design and art.
The museum will host two events this weekend to mark the opening of The Art of Video Games.
Author Chris Melissinos, who curated the show for the Smithsonian, will present "Achievement Unlocked: How Video Games Captured the World's Imagination"  on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Little Theater.
Saturday from 8 p.m. to midnight, the museum will throw an opening party, #GameOn! The party will feature: a special appearance by Holly Hirzel, a producer for Xbox; a rock-paper-scissors tournament; a participatory video game; dancing; a game-inspired photobooth; and a variety of food and beverages. The party is $20 and $10 for children 6 to 12. Free to museum members.
Last Updated on Thursday, 19 June 2014 15:05

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