Visual Culture

The mosquito emoji and an Xbox controller were acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Alex Wexelman
Sep 7, 2018 4:44PM, via The Guardian

There’s some buzz in the air about the Victoria and Albert Museum’s (V&A) new acquisitions through its Rapid Response Collecting program—and it’s not just the hum of the mosquito emoji. The digital deadly insect ideogram is among several new inductees to the revered design museum’s collection by way of its specialized acquisitions program, which is guided by “evidence of social, technological, and economic change,” V&A Senior Curator of Design and Digital, Corinna Gardner, said in a statement.

Why the pesky mosquito? The emoji, launched in June—a year after it was proposed—represents the most dangerous creature on the planet and was designed to give healthcare professionals an easy way to communicate quickly and across language barriers about any threat the insect may impose. The mosquito emoji was originally proposed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Speaking of Bill Gates, a device manufactured by his company, Microsoft, is among the new objects acquired by the V&A. The museum has acquired the Xbox’s Adaptive Controller, which is the first video game controller massed produced to accommodate people with disabilities. In a press release, the museum said, “[the controller] represents a landmark moment in videogame play, and demonstrates how design can be harnessed to encourage inclusivity.” The acquisition coincides with a major exhibition on video game design.

Rounding out the new Rapid Response Collecting acquisitions is a pair of camera-equipped sunglasses produced by Snapchat. The “Spectacles” debuted last year to disappointing results, and subsequent redesigns have sought to make the glasses more aesthetically appealing.

Alex Wexelman