Metro Weekly

Smithsonian’s SAAM Arcade showcases the art of gaming

The Smithsonian American Art Museum celebrates the art and culture of videogames with a massive videogame playground

SAAM Arcade — Photo:
Darren Milligan

“Video games are part of our visual culture and worthy of display as well as study,” says Stephanie Stebich, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Heralded as a leader in appreciating video games as an art form and one of the first museums in the U.S. to acquire video games as part of its permanent collection, the museum recognizes video games’ compelling performance space, activated by artists and players alike, whose interaction can create a unique artistic as well as educational experience.

At the SAAM Arcade, participants will have the chance to play games, from the analog (card games, pinball machines) to digital classics (Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, available on their original devices).

But the centerpiece is the “Indie Showcase” in the museum’s Kogod Courtyard, a display of 40 independent games created by both student and professional developers and brought together by American University’s Game Lab and the International Game Developers Association.

Other activities include a game-building workshops hosted by the Boolean Girl and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the first-ever Boys and Girls Club Youth eSports League Championship, and songs inspired by classic games performed by Bit Brigade and Triforce Quartet.

Saturday, Aug. 5, and Sunday, Aug. 6, from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F Sts. NW. Free. Call 202-633-1000 or visit

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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