Museums have laid out NFTs. What issues need to be paid attention to when they all in
NFT has recently aroused great interest in the commercial aspects of the art world. This summer, after a small but significant delay, the ubiquitous blockchain-based collections leapt into the museum’s institutional map.
Several public collectors from all over the world have gone on the road, announcing that they will sell NFT versions of their works. For some, this is to make up for the funds lost during the pandemic. For others, this is an exploration of managers or a demonstration of institutional power. For all of them, however, it is a way to stimulate attention and reach new audiences.
A brief review of recent museum NFT activities: In May, the Uffizi Museum in Florence “AiTech” sold the NFT of an oil painting by Michelangelo for a low price of 140,000 Euros (worth $170,000). Recently, the Hermitage Museum announced plans to sell several NFTs linked to its collections, following the decision of the Jiansong Art and Culture Foundation in Seoul to tokenize the national treasure to maintain operations. The Whitworth Museum in Manchester also included William Blake’s work “NFT in Ancient Times” in a major NFT auction.
“It seems that despite the different strategies, NFT is becoming a new form of digital goods, although its price may be higher than that of tea towels or limited edition silk scarves printed with Monet flowers. But just like any other new intermediary, NFT will definitely have growing pains. Is the museum entering too fast? As countries consider new legislation to regulate crypto trade, will there be any pitfalls in using NFT?” Mona Lisa said .
“It sounds like science fiction, but with the explosion of the NFT, this transition happened much faster than the museum might realize.” Jason Bailey, co-founder and CEO of the NFT Club Bailey) said.
New fund, new sponsor
“My own kids don’t know who William Blake is, but they know what NFT is.” Whitworth director Alistair Hudson said on the phone from Manchester.
He believes that the emergence of NFT is an opportunity to achieve two goals at the same time: to provide education on digital collections and reach new audiences. Hudson said: “We do this not just to make money, nor to treat it as a stream of business income, but as part of our knowledge and management considerations.” Elementary and middle school students are exchanging and trading NFTs, Digital billionaires also conduct NFT transactions in the high-end market. NFT transactions can show the power of your wallet. The whole process is proof of financial strength. “
The agency has a particularly deliberate approach: they will sell 50 NFTs from William Blake on the eco-friendly NFT market Hic et Nunc in 1794 (in fact, they are using multispectral imaging equipment to generate some interesting Of people are familiar with the new high-tech version of the image).
Crucially, the profits from this auction will be used for community projects at the Whitworth Museum, which the museum hopes will generate a revenue stream that will last for many years. This is because the smart contracts written into the blockchain will collect royalties for the museum every time Blake’s works are resold.
Hudson said: “We are interested in researching how to readjust the museum’s economic system to adapt to the new world. NFT has the potential to create a more democratic form of philanthropy… It’s not a question of us strengthening institutional capital. It’s about creating New forms of capital can bring benefits to the public.”
Hito Steyell talks about encryption, art and NFT at Studio Bonn hosted by Kolja Reichert with Martti Kalliala and Joseph Vogel of Amnesia Scanner
Bailey hopes that this strategy of seeking new patrons can help diversify the museum’s sponsorship base. “Decentralized financing can change the way museums raise funds and reduce dependence on a small number of high-net-worth patrons. The value of these patrons is not always consistent with the community the museum serves.” He said.
This new funding method also has its own challenges. Zachary Kaplan from the online art organization Rhizome recently received the largest gift in its history through an NFT auction. He told Artnet News that there are still some “warnings” between art NFTs and institutions that need to be eliminated.
“Non-profit organizations still have obstacles. For example, exchanges are not optimized for new or small institutional users.” He added, “The value of NFT is driven by the participation of its artist and collector community, which is in line with traditional museum support. The ratio of creators does not exceed 1:1. The value of NFT requires a partnership between institutions and creators. In fact, “creators” are in a leading position and participate in the community for the causes they support.”
The reason why museums are relatively slower than other subjects in the art world in accepting NFTs may be related to the red tape of whether they can handle public domain works.
For the Hermitage Museum, the works it sells include Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna Lita (1490) and Vincent van Gogh’s Lilac “Cong” (1889) and Claude Monet’s “A Corner of the Garden of Montgillon” (c. 1876). This experiment is just to explore a new model in a country where most crypto transactions are illegal. According to its general manager, Michael Piotrovsky (Michael Piotrovsky), Hermitage does not even plan to make money. He is leading the sale with Binance.
The Russian Museum is splitting the famous works in its collection into two NFTs, instead of one NFT, one of the digital tokens will be kept in its collection forever, and the other will be reserved for the final buyer. “Our financial problems are in the billions.” Piotrovsky told reporters, “It is not important to use tokens to solve financial problems… At present, we want to see how this kind of experiment responds.”
Russia’s strict cryptocurrency transaction law came into effect in January this year, which provides a basis for the Hermitage Museum’s approach. The museum has found a way to comply, although it did not provide much information about how the auction will work in this regard. Some people think this is an exploit of a loophole in a new law that does not explicitly mention non-financial transactions.
Undoubtedly, Uffizi is one of the fastest museums to enter the new space. Under the leadership of the new director Eike Schmidt (Eike Schmidt), the Botticelli Museum, known as the House of Venus, quickly joined TikTok and even launched interesting cooking shows during the confinement period. The Uffizi Museum enthusiastically entered the NFT arena, selling “Donitodo” for 140,000 euros ($170,000) and sharing half of the profits with their technology partner Cinello.
At the time of the auction, the museum announced that they would also put the NFTs of other classic works in the collection for sale: “The Birth of Venus”, “Lapar’s Madonna del Grande Card” and “Kavag “Joe’s List” is on the list of tokenization.
“The spread of knowledge of these works of art is an integral part.” Schmidt told Artnet News, “but just as you couldn’t manage a museum by selling posters and postcards in the past, we can’t manage through digital twins. The museum of the future.”
Uffizi Museum in Florence, Italy. Photo by Giovanni Mereghetti/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Schmidt said that upcoming sales activities are being suspended, while the Italian Ministry of Culture is studying legislation on digital sales, especially NFT copies of works owned by the National Museum. “Hope (we don’t have to wait) for too long, because we don’t want to miss the next stage of sales.” He said.
Although he looks forward to continuing his NFT sales (prior to government approval), he is also convinced that the true value of museum NFT lies elsewhere. “Blockchain technology is more interesting for new creations of works of art and other departments of museums such as ticket sales and smart contracts. We are actively investigating this matter.”
In a recent discussion at Studio Bonn, artist Hito Steyer elaborated on her doubts about blockchain, encryption, and NFT, and the cultural optimism towards them. “The concentration of power is happening in the field of cryptography.” The artist reminded.
In fact, she announced that she has been in the Humboldt Forum Berlin (Humboldt Forum) and major cultural institutions in Bonn, Germany Museum (Bundeskunsthalle) and other cultural institutions Ethernet Square on the address “squatting wait and see.” “The entire art world is mine.” She quipped.
Although Steyell’s views are symbolic, they raise important ethical issues regarding privatized objects, public goods, or general space on the blockchain. Should institutions really sell the original digital version of their work to private individuals?
View of State Hermit Museum and Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia
Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Bailey advised the Whitworth Museum and helped the museum incorporate NFT sales into its plans. He urged other museums to use this moment for participation and education. But he also advises everyone to be careful not to sign the works too soon.
He said: “Before you sign to renounce your rights to the NFTs in your collection, make sure you understand what NFTs are and the role they will play in the future. I take Walt Disney as an example, who refused to sign him in the 1930s. Although most people didn’t know what it was at the time, it was estimated that by 1966, more than 100 million people were watching Disney TV.”
While dealing with the more difficult issues in the NFT boom, taking advantage of its opportunities will be a balancing act. We must praise the various institutions that are stretching their necks and willing to make the first mistake that others can learn from. In fact, the Whitworth Museum is currently planning to record all the ups and downs of its NFT sales in an exhibition themed economic and art exhibitions to be held in 2023.
Hudson said: “The biggest unknown is the permanence of the blockchain. What does it mean to make a work run forever? One of our jobs is to spread the image… This is a method. We are shooting images from 1827. And make it run in the world again.”
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