Yesterday, I went to an exhibition of video game consoles at the Arizona Museum of Popular Culture which is in the store, Arizona Popular Culture Experience, at Desert Ridge Marketplace. When I got the press release for the exhibit, I thought it would be a couple shelves of video games and a large store selling posters, figurines, toys and whatever pop culture knick-knacks they could sell.
Well, no. Very little is for sale.
The museum is plain, gray, metal shelving of all the action figures, sports figures, movie and television show figurines, toys and Hot Wheels cars from the last 46 years or so. Really, it seems like all of them, whether it is Charlie’s Angels, GI Joe, sports figures, Xenia: The Warrior Princiess, even action figures from the LOST television series, are here, some 12,000 items. There’s a wall of Simpsons characters, though the docent, Stephen Martinez, claimed there are a few missing, so it isn’t a complete set. But still, it takes up an entire wall.
It isn’t like there is a representative samples of anything, it’s like they have the entire collection of everything. Kurt Cobains, Elvises, presidential action figures, Metallica, Motley Crüe, Furbies, Zelda…
Martinez said there are no Power Rangers, Transformers, Hello Kitty or Beanie Babies. Apparently the collector and founder of the museum, John Edwards, was busy at work and going through a divorce when they came out so he was possibly distracted from collecting.
The Arizona Museum of Popular Culture does not look like the typical museum with brightly lit, spacious exhibits with high ceilings to accentuate each and every carefully displayed artifact. This is a massive collection by a dedicated, thorough collector. That the space is not elegant is irrelevant after a few moments. The seeming endlessness of the collection is part of the fun.
The reason I was there, the “History of Video Game Consoles,” was upstairs, through the maze of shelves, in a small room with the video game consoles, cartridges and controllers on tables and wooden bookcases. On one wall a timeline, starting in 1952, charts the history of video games. In 1958 William Higinbotham, at Brookhaven National Laboratory, rigged up an oscilloscope to create the Tennis for Twogame, a lot like the first Pong game which came out in 1972.
I am not a gamer or a collector of things but the other visitors for the media preview knew many arcane details of video games. I enjoyed the scale of the museum exhibit and the focused exhibit of the consoles. I wouldn’t have guessed there would be much to see regarding video game consoles, so I was intrigued.
The Video Console exhibit will up March9-April 22 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The cost is $5 for adults, $3 for children. Entrance is free for active military, police and fire fighters. Museum is open 12-6pm Friday and Saturday and Sundays 12-5pm with tours on the hour by appointment.
Learn more at Arizona Museum of Popular Culture website.