These Five Gadgets Are Now In MoMA's Permanent Collection

Illustration for article titled These Five Gadgets Are Now In MoMA's Permanent Collection

A microcontroller. An experimental synthesizer. A kit for building game consoles. You can read about these things online, you can buy them online, and you can build them yourself. But starting this year, you'll also find them in arguably the most important modern art museum in the world.

In a blog post this week, MoMA's Senior Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design, Paola Antonelli, announced five new acquisitions by the museum. She calls them "humble masterpieces," alluding to the fact that unlike almost all of the rest of MoMA's tens of thousands of works from Monet to Warhol, you can buy all this stuff online for not much money. "All of our new acquisitions are low-cost, countering one possible definition at least—that money or expensive materials define masterpieces," she writes.

There's Arduino, the open-source microcontroller:


And Ototo, an experimental synthesizer that uses capacitive sensing:

Makey Makey, a board that turns any object into a button, is another addition:

Along with Colour Chaser, a robot that translates color into sound:


Finally there's the DIY Gamer Kit, a kit-of-parts that lets anyone build a handheld console:

Antonelli was also responsible for MoMA acquiring several classic video games last year—she's leading the charge to include more than fine art and high design in the museum, pushing for widely available products and objects to be shown off next to priceless works.


What's it like to have your synthesize accepted into MoMA for all eternity? "It's a real privilege to have our work in MoMA," said Mark McKeague, one half of the Ototo team, to Gizmodo over email. "For MoMA to showcase products that allow people to be creative with technology and open up new possibilities is very exciting." It's unclear exactly when the five new works will go on view, but it sounds like you'll be able to see them in MoMA's design galleries before long [MoMA]

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Slightly off topic: but can anyone tell me if Parallax and the Stamp microcontrollers have any presence in the maker community? I used them about 10 years ago but quickly moved on to Mircrochip's PIC24 series. The parallax lineup had some great accessories and a pretty simple IDE but they never seemed to gain as much ground as the arduino and raspberry products. Does anyone know why?