Hanne-Lovise and I went to the Digital Play exhbition at the American Museum of the Moving Image yesterday. The exhibit consists of a series of games in their original form, and you can play them all, from Space Invaders and Asteroids (1979) through the first music game to hit the US (my goodness the interface and aesthetics have improved since 1997) to Rez, the EyeToy and Dance Dance Revolution. We knew of most of the games, and had sort of played several of them, but it was lovely having an empty gallery and plenty of time to play them and to experience the sequence and history of it all. I’m going to buy Rez. And maybe that guitar game, too.

Before you got to the games, a few computers displayed “new narratives” and animations. I wrote a separate review of the one I liked best, though I was disappointed that all the selected “new narratives” were singularly uninteractive. I suppose it’s the Museum of the Moving Image, not of interactivity.

As for the rest of the museum, well, I’ve obviously been completely spoilt by MOMI, the Museum of the Moving Image in London, which was tragically closed in 1999, and there are no real plans to reopen it. While the London MOMI, as I remember it, was largely about letting visitors explore how films are actually, the New York museum mostly consists of slightly dusty collections of movie paraphernalia, although there are some nice exhibits on the third floor that let you play at making animations, look at zoetropes and see a wonderful demostration of how come lots of still images look like fluid movement. You can see yourself superimposed on different backgrounds using a blue screen, too, but that’s it – in London you get to choose between pretending to be Superman flying over buildings and doing the weather forecast. They’ve done a much better job of narrativising it all.

On the other hand, it was totally luxurious having the museum practically to ourselves all afternoon. We had a lot of fun playing games, and a lovely dinner and such a nice time just hanging out.

7 thoughts on “American Museum of the Moving Image

  1. andrew

    Doesn’t the AMMI have the entire history of all American TV shows on archive, that you can watch in kiosks? That’s probably the museum’s greatest value.

  2. Jill

    Does it? That sounds really cool! I didn’t see it, but I might have just missed it.

  3. Esther

    I’m shocked. I went to MOMI twice when it was open and it was the best museum (apart from the Imperial War Museum) I’ve ever been to. As a child I remember both the Superman and the news broadcast, and also the large amount of re-enactors throughout the museum making it properly interactive, including a huge screen showing sections from classic films to a equally classic series of soundtracks, complete with a perky gent telling us to all ‘get in line for the show, please, madame’. There was also a Jim Henson exhibition there at one point. I’m saddened it’s closed.

  4. Jill

    Yes, the news broadcast! And the reenactors were awesome. I agree, it’s really sad that it’s gone. I don’t know why they shut it down…

  5. David

    A whole room full of games and no need for quarters? Must be heaven for junior high schoolers. I’m surprised one could ever have the room to themself.

  6. Jill

    Uh, well, actually you only got three tokens for the arcade games – Space Invaders, Asteroids and Ms Pacman. If you wanted more tokens they cost a quarter each. The other games were free. If you don’t consider the US$10 entrace fee.

    It was great having the exhibition completely to ourselves, that’s for sure!

  7. Marika

    Andrew, I think that’s The museum of television and radio. I visited it in 1999, and it’s cool 🙂

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