Museums and NFTs: The Acceptance of Non-Fungible Tokens in The Art World

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The evolution of technology in the art sector

The artistic community has been slow to accept NFTs. This is to be expected. Throughout history, changes in technology and a movement away from traditional standards have always been met with resistance. 

The main factor is a  general distrust by those who already exist within the affected sectors. Integrating new technologies with existing mediums, while balancing the opinions and critiques of the populace, is a challenge the art world will need to address as NFTs and crypto become more prominent within the art world. 

Museums using NFTs: Hermitage Museum and The British Museum

In a world that is moving towards a digitalized future, two of the largest museums have taken the leap into NFTs: Russia’s Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and The British Museum in London. Both museums announced that they would be minting NFTs of popular artwork in their collections. All of which will soon be available for purchase. 

Artworks including Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna Litta (1490) and works by famous Japanese artist Hokusai have been tokenized. This allowed collectors to have digital copies of their favorite traditional art pieces and increased funding to the museums. If this experiment by the titans of the museum world succeeds, it could open a new avenue of funding for other museums and help to modernize and maintain facilities that have struggled throughout the pandemic.

Utilizing NFTs to fund museums and reach a younger audience who might otherwise not be exposed to these artworks is something that could become ubiquitous throughout the industry. Millennials and Gen Z are the largest groups of investors in Cryptocurrencies to date.

As it stands 39% of Millennials and 47% of GenZ have put their money into cryptocurrencies and NFTs. With such a large segment of the population invested in this growing industry and moving away from traditional stocks held by older generations, it only makes sense that organizations would utilize this information to target a growing financial demographic.

Not only would NFTs bring much-needed funding to these educational institutions, but NFTs could easily open up an opportunity for the curators to connect with patrons in a way they never have before. 

A new type of community to support art

NFTs have already started to carve out their niche, and have encouraged discussion and debate between those who believe in the longevity of NFTs and those who are skeptical about using NFT to promote art as a whole. The Smithsonian, MoMA, and other major museums have already hosted talks discussing NFTs and their future in the art world. These talks, while they might always come to the same conclusion, are important.

They indicate a growing section of the population that is curious about NFTs. Art industry experts are weighing in and providing a nuanced and varied look into what the future holds. You can find a link to these talks and more here.

Established museums are not the only organizations that have the ability to capitalize on NFTs, the first-ever physical NFT Museum just opened in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle NFT Museum is a prime example of a burgeoning industry beginning to expand away from its formerly niche audience into a commodity that is more easily accessible to the general public. With an increased understanding of NFTs and the metaverse, the possibilities for the medium is endless. 

“What can an institution become when it is organized with the network at its core?” 

New  Speculative Values: Between the Institution and the NFT

What usecase could be used if a DAO ran the Museum’s NFT sales? 

Communities have already developed around NFTs, artists, and institutions like museums. These communities, in order to organize themselves to scale, have become what we’re calling a “Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs)”. DAOs are designed and built by investors and fans of NFT projects. They create a built-in support system for artists and their projects.

DAOs could also develop around museums, which could in turn support museums and their artwork. This same ideology could allow for research, educational campaigns, and community outreach to be funded utilizing the blockchain. 

NFT and Museums: A very early use-case

Because NFTs are still a relatively new industry, no one can predict  how they will develop and change in the next few years. Still, NFTs have created a possibility of a marriage between digital and traditional art. They could not only provide a platform for future artists but allow for the preservation of historical art pieces by introducing them to a younger audience in ways not previously accessible to Museums and other educational institutions.

With so much potential, one can only hope that NFTs continue to develop in a positive direction. 


Russia’s Hermitage Museum Will Auction Off NFTs of Prized Works by Leonardo, Van Gogh, and Other Artists in Its Collection

The British Museum to launch NFTs, as the craze continues through 2022

The Seattle NFT Museum


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