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Hello art world: Smithsonian acquires first piece of code for design collection

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iPad app Planetary has just been added to the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum's collection, but the institution has also gone as step further by acquiring the app's code. This is the first time the museum has acquired a piece of code, and it has also worked with the original creators to make the source code available to everyone, in an attempt to preserve software as if it was a living thing. "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."

"Open sourcing the code is akin to a panda breeding program."

Originally released in 2011, Planetary is an app that turns exploring your music collection into a sci-fi adventure — albums are turned into planets, which orbit around suns representing artists. The museum hopes that the decision to add both the software and the code to its collection will not only help with issues of preservation, but also potentially change the way similar institutions view software in general. "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."