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Smithsonian acquires first piece of code for design collection

Can a piece of code ever be art? Maybe not, but it can apparently be the kind of design worthy of a place in a museum dedicated to the subject.

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum has acquired iPad app Planetary as well as the code behind the app.

According to The Verge, this is the first time the museum has acquired a piece of code and the museum is apparently working with the creators of the app to make the source code publicly available.

“With Planetary we are hoping to preserve more than simply the vessel,” Cooper-Hewitt’s Sebastian Chan explains, “more than an instantiation of software and hardware frozen at a moment in time.”

Planetary was originally released in 2011 and offers a pretty novel way of exploring your music collection. Instead of boring lists, the app turns each of your albums into planets with the artist acting as the sun they revolve around.

The museum reportedly hopes that adding the software as well as the source code to its collection will help, not just with issues of preservation, but with the way such items are viewed by other institutions.

“We liken this situation to that of a specimen in a zoo,” says Chan. “Open sourcing the code is akin to a panda-breeding program.”

Author | Stuart Thomas

Stuart Thomas
Stuart is the editor-in-chief of Engage Me Online. After pursuing an MA in South African literature, he spent five years reporting on the global technology scene. Intrigued by the intersection of technology and work, he joined Engage Me as the editor-in-chief. He is a passionate runner, and recently ran... More

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