MoMA has acquired the @ symbol into its collection:
It relies on the assumption that physical possession of an object as a requirement for an acquisition is no longer necessary, and therefore it sets curators free to tag the world and acknowledge things that “cannot be had” — because they are too big (buildings, Boeing 747’s, satellites), or because they are in the air and belong to everybody and to no one, like the @ — as art objects befitting MoMA’s collection. The same criteria of quality, relevance, and overall excellence shared by all objects in MoMA’s collection also apply to these entities.
@ has real legacy:
Some linguists believe that @ dates back to the sixth or seventh century, a ligature meant to fuse the Latin preposition ad — meaning “at”, “to,” or “toward” — into a unique pen stroke.
Why @ is in the collection:
Tomlinson [Ray, American electrical engineer] performed a powerful act of design that not only forever changed the @ sign’s significance and function, but which also has become an important part of our identity in relationship and communication with others. His (unintended) role as a designer must be acknowledged and celebrated by the one collection — MoMA’s — that has always celebrated elegance, economy, intellectual transparency, and a sense of the possible future directions that are embedded in the arts of our time, the essence of modern.
Brilliant and wonderful.