Old school emojis to hang alongside Picasso

Emojis have now attained the status of art and will be displayed in a permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The set of 176 original emoji characters which have been donated to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City are seen in an undated handout image.

Emojis of smiley faces and images of food and cats designed nearly 20 years ago by Japanese phone company NTT DoCoMo used in digital messages worldwide, have now attained the status of art.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York on Wednesday said it had acquired the license to display the emojis in its permanent collection alongside works by Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock.

NTT DoCoMo developed the original set of 176 emojis and released them for cellphones and pagers in 1999.

The original set is the blueprint for emojis widely used today, and they expanded the ways to communicate using limited screen space available on devices of the time.

Part of the museum's mission had always been to collect and display timeless art and design, according to Paola Antonelli, a senior curator at the museum.

"Emojis as a concept go back in the centuries, to ideograms, hieroglyphics, and other graphic characters, enabling us to draw this beautiful arch that covers all of human history," Antonelli said in a statement.

The emoji display comes six years after MoMA made headlines when it added the @ symbol used in email addresses and on social media to its collection, citing its "design power."

It's unclear how the emojis would be displayed at MoMA, but the installation is due to open in early December.

Reuters, TRTWorld and agencies