TIME emoji

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

Shigetaka Kurita/NTT DoCoMo/Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art—AP 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.

They will join works by Van Gogh and Picasso in the museum

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.

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team