Facing mounting financial pressure, the Danish museum Spilmuseet ("The Games Museum") is about to jettison a massive collection of classic video games and related hardware. And with nobody opening their doors yet, all these refugees of console wars past are still in need of a new home.
The collection consists of roughly "10,000 console and computer games, 4,000 arcade games and 1,400 arcade machines," according to the Wall Street Journal. Rune Keller, the museum's head, told the paper that he's "pretty sure our arcade collection is the world's largest." That's all the more impressive considering that he assembled the whole thing with his dad. The Journal didn't say how long it took the father-son duo to fill out the collection, but Keller said that they poured "roughly a million dollars" into the project and "invested their spare time in restoring the items."
There are some real gems in the collection, such as a working version of the 1981 arcade game Space Fortress and a European version of the 1979 game Sheriff, the first Nintendo title to feature artwork by Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto. That's in addition to classics like Pong and formative consoles from Amiga and Atari.
With so much great stuff at his fingertips, you might be wondering: why is Keller letting it all go? He told the Journal that he decided to hand off the collection after he failed to win over government support for the endeavor. But seeing as he and his dad were able to spend a cool million on this passion project in the first place, Keller isn't in dire enough financial straits to just let anybody take his games away. Rather, he's looking for someone (or something) that will purchase the entire collection and keep it in the public eye.
"We think it is important to conserve the history of gaming, just as it is to conserve films, books or music," Keller said. So rather than hand the collection to another individual benefactor or eager gamer, he wants to find a like-minded institution that will use the archive to "serve the public good."
Keller told the Journal that he's been approached by "organizations from Sweden and France as well as a 'big, established museum in the U.S.'" Several prominent U.S. museums have taken an increased interest in games in recent years, so there's no telling where the games might find themselves if they end up making the journey across the pond. In any case, it's nice to see that video games are finally beginning to emerge from their position as "second-class citizens" in the "pantheon of pop culture," as Kill Screen founder Jamin Warren put it back in 2012 when the Museum of Modern Art first introduced them to its permanent collection.
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