MoMA Acquires The Rainbow Flag

The Rainbow Flag waving in the wind at San Francisco’s Castro District.  COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The Rainbow Flag waving in the wind at San Francisco’s Castro District.


MoMA announced today via blog post that the museum has acquired the Rainbow Flag, the symbol of gay pride, as part of its design collection, which already houses the @ symbol, the Creative Commons logo, and the recycling symbol.

Along with the announcement is a transcription of an interview conducted by Paola Antonelli, senior curator in MoMA’s department of architecture and design, and Michelle Millar Fisher, curatorial assistant in that department, with Gilbert Baker, the artist who created the Rainbow Flag in 1978. Fisher and Antonelli, prefaced the interview by saying, “We’re proud the MoMA collection now includes this powerful design milestone, and there’s no more perfect time to share this news than during global celebrations for Gay Pride Month.”

According to Baker, the idea for the Rainbow Flag came about in 1976, the United States’ bicentennial:

“…that year in particular I began to notice the American flag—which is where a lot of the Rainbow Flag comes from—in the sense that all of a sudden [I saw] the American flag everywhere—from Jasper Johns paintings to trashy jeans in the Gap and tchotchkes.

And I thought, a flag is different than any other form of art. It’s not a painting, it’s not just cloth, it is not a just logo—it functions in so many different ways. I thought that we needed that kind of symbol, that we needed as a people something that everyone instantly understands.”

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