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Smithsonian Design Museum acquires two emoji that symbolize inclusion

Smithsonian-Emoji Acquisition
Posted at 11:30 AM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 14:30:53-05

NEW YORK (AP) — The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has acquired two emoji that have helped broaden diversity for users of the tiny pictures.

It becomes the third museum to add emoji to their digital collections.

The New York museum acquired the “person with headscarf” and “inter-skintone couple” emoji for its burgeoning collection of digital assets.

The museum plans an exhibition explaining the significance of the two through interviews and images, but the pandemic has put an opening date in limbo, said Andrea Lipps, Cooper Hewitt’s associate curator of contemporary design.

“The desire to acquire these particular emoji arose from what we were seeing as the desire for inclusion and representation of various groups and communities and couples on the emoji keyboard,” Lipps told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of the announcement.

The emoji are commonly known as “woman in hijab” and “interracial couple.”

The hijab emoji, as it’s informally known, was submitted in 2016 to the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit that oversees emoji standards with voting members from the world’s top digital companies. A then 15-year-old Saudi Arabian girl, Rayouf Alhumedhi, attracted worldwide attention as she campaigned for its inclusion. She was selected as one of Time magazine’s most influential teens of 2017.

The interracial couple emoji was submitted to Unicode in 2018 and arrived on devices last year, giving people their first chance to combine multiple skin tones in a single emoji. It builds on the advocacy work of Katrina Parrott, a Black, Houston-based entrepreneur inspired to create diverse skin tones in emoji after her daughter lamented she couldn’t properly represent herself on keyboards.