First introduced by the president of JVC on September 9, 1976, VHS (Video Home System) emerged as the winner of a battle for a consumer videotape format. Beating out Betamax and VX, VHS become the global standard in a watershed shift in the methods in which cinema was viewed, created, and curated.

No longer limited to viewing films at specific times on television or in theaters, with VHS audiences could choose how and when they would watch their favorite movies.  VHS fostered the expansion of cinema into new aspects of daily life, resulting in an explosion of new cinematic genres and techniques, the video store, and an impressive increase in audiences.

While Hollywood film studios originally feared VHS, with head of the Motion Picture Association of America Jack Valenti famously testifying before congress, “The VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone,” they quickly embraced the large revenue stream created by the video rental market.  This new source of funding also eventually supported the rise of the American independent film market, with small companies like Miramax and New Line Cinema transforming over time into major industry figures.

In celebration of this influential medium, the Museum of Arts and Design presents VHS, a three-month survey of the short-lived video revolution. VHS screenings include a wide array of VHS offerings, including rare genre films, bootleg rock concert videos, independent works by the likes of Todd Haynes, Troma Video, and Nam June Paik, live workout classes by Richard Simmons and Susan Powter, and lost public access gems. In honor of its VHS series, MAD has also recreated a video rental store within its walls. In its exploration of the mutliple facets of the format, VHS demonstrates the impact of this technology on the history of cinema.


VHS is organized by Jake Yuzna, Manager of Public Programs, with Matthew Desiderio and Rebecca Cleman.


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