Controversy @ MoMA

One of the Museum of Modern Art’s most recent acquisitions to their collection is not an actual object.  It’s a symbol: @.   At first I was as annoyed with the news as those who publicly described it as “intellectual garbage” and “pretentious nonsense.” But upon further thought, I actually commend MoMA for continuing their long history of being a farsighted institution that sees (or is it more accurate to say “invents”?) trends while the rest of the world is still hung up on more traditional ideas of art and design.  It’s not as if the idea of collecting the intangible is really all that new.  MoMA has been practicing this for decades.  How is the acquisition of the @ symbol any different from a museum purchasing a Sol Lewitt wall drawing from the 1970s? With a Lewitt drawing, all a museum is essentially buying is a set of directions that a museum prep crew uses to materialize Lewitt’s vision.  For a more recent example, how is this any different from purchasing an equally intangible performance art piece?  In light of this digital age, maybe 21st century museums need to get over the idea of a collection actually consisting of objects.  

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