Love it, whether this symbol should or shouldn’t have been acquired is not the most important part of this conversation for me. I just love the conversation itself and the beauty of rediscovering the art, importance and level of communication that occurs with everyday symbols that are taken for granted in their daily use. Thank you to Paola Antonelli, keep up the great work!
MoMA acquires a typographic symbol—but what does it mean?
The morning of Monday, March 22, Paola Antonelli published a post on the Museum of Modern Art’s blog about a new acquisition to the museum’s design department. Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at the museum, then alerted one reporter and 43 other bloggers to the news and headed to the airport to catch a plane to San Francisco.
“By the time I landed, it was like a volcano eruption,” says Antonelli. Commentators were in a lather on account of the unusual nature of the acquisition: the @ symbol, the tiny “pig’s tail” that resides above the number two on the QWERTY keyboard. The acquisition cost nothing, was freely available to everyone, and didn’t add anything material to the museum’s collection. Inserting @ into MoMA’s collection, Antonelli wrote, “relies on the assumption that physical possession of an object as a requirement for an acquisition is no longer necessary, and therefore it sets curators free to tag the world.”