TEC-Emoji-Museum
This photo shows the original set of 176 emojis, which the Museum of Modern Art has acquired. The emojis were a gift to the museum from the phone company, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone. Shigetaka Kurita/NTT DoCoMo/Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art—AP

Museum of Modern Art Adds the 176 Original Emojis to Its Collection

Oct 27, 2016

As emojis enter every aspect of our lives, from our phones, to movies, to the dictionary, it’s only fitting that their next stop is an art museum.

The Museum of Modern Art announced on Wednesday that it has acquired the original set of 176 emojis. Released in 1999 by Japanese phone company NTT DoCoMo, the first emojis were simple 12-pixel-by-12-pixel images that included a smiley face, a snowman, hearts and an old-school cell phone.

The emojis were copied in Japan after the initial set debuted, but they didn’t go global until Apple added them to the iPhone in 2011. The number of emojis has grown significantly over the years. The Unicode Consortium, which oversees emoji designs, now recognizes nearly 1,800 emojis, and the set has been updated with everything from the silly (poop) to the inclusive (more gender equality and racial diversity).

MoMA will display its new emoji collection in the museum’s lobby starting in December, the New York Times reports, and the exhibit will involve printed and animated designs.

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