These Five Gadgets Are Now In MoMA's Permanent Collection

By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on at

A microcontroller. An experimental synthesiser. A kit for building game consoles. You can read about these things or buy them online, and you can even 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, Paola Antonelli, senior curator in the department of architecture and design (not to mention R&D director) at New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), announced five new acquisitions to her collection.

Antonelli calls them "humble masterpieces", alluding to the fact that unlike most of MoMA's tens of thousands of works, from Monet to Warhol, you can buy all this stuff quite easily and for not much money at all.

"All of our new acquisitions are low-cost," she writes, "countering one possible definition at least – that money or expensive materials define masterpieces." 

There's Arduino, the open-source microcontroller:

And Ototo, an experimental synthesiser 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 colour into sound:

And 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. But what's it like to have your synthesiser accepted into MoMA for all eternity?

"It's a real privilege to have our work in MoMA," Mark McKeague, one half of the Ototo and Colour Chaser team, told 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 MoMA's always worth a stop off the next time you're in the Big Apple. [MoMA]