The Film and Media Arts Initiative at the Smithsonian American Art Museum reflects a commitment to develop the museum’s film and media arts collections, research resources, and programs. Recent additions to the permanent collection have included works by Jim Campbell, Bill Viola, Cory Arcangel, Vito Acconci, Chris Burden, John Baldessari, Peter Campus, Dennis Oppenheim, Bruce Nauman, Kota Ezawa, and other artists working in film, video, and other time-based media.
In 2009, the museum acquired the complete estate archive of visionary artist Nam June Paik. The Nam June Paik Archive, consisting of research material, documentation, correspondence, sculptural robots, and video and television technology from the artist's estate, is a core part of the initiative. The first exhibition to draw on the resources of the Nam June Paik Archive was Nam June Paik: Global Visionary in 2012.
In 2013, the museum first accessioned video games into its permanent collection—Flower (2007) by Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago, and Halo 2600 (2010) by Ed Fries. These acquisitions represent an ongoing commitment to the study and preservation of video games as an artistic medium. The museum is acquiring works that explore and articulate the unique boundaries of video games as an art form, and plans to acquire additional video games in the future, working with artists, developers, and programmers to represent this new creative practice.
In 2015, the museum presented Watch This! Revelations in Media Art, a major exhibition of significant works by artists Cory Arcangel, Hans Breder, Takeshi Murata, Bruce Nauman, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Nam June Paik, Martha Rosler, Eve Sussman, Bill Viola and others that highlight the breadth of media art, including 16 mm films, computer-driven cinema, closed-circuit installations, digital animation, video games, and more.