Museums, individuals and metaverse initiatives have used nonfungible tokens (NFTs) as a new means for reinventing themselves before their fans. The family of Frida Kahlo unveiled never-before-seen art and personal artifacts of the artist at an exclusive event on the Decentraland metaversplatform for its art week in August.
In Belgium, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp became the first European museum to tokenize a classic art masterpiece worth millions of euros. The Kharkiv Art Museum in Ukraine launched a new NFT collection with Binance to preserve their cultural heritage and raise funds amid the ongoing regional conflict.
However, as everything becomes tokenized, questions arise. Will museums in the future just be giant NFT galleries with every piece of art having a digital counterpart? How does ownership really work in such a scenario?
Enic Magazine spoke with Hussein Hallak, founder and CEO of Momentable, a company servicing museums to help with NFT integration, to understand what an NFT-ized future looks like for the art world.
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While digital art that is native to the Web3 space finds its place in virtual museums, traditional art and museums are taking on a layer of Web3. Thus, Hallak believes it’s “inevitable” for museums to eventually transform into giant NFT galleries.
“We believe everything will be an NFT, just like a serial number, for every product there will be an NFT.”
According to Hallak, it’s just a matter of technology becoming easier to use in order to become ubiquitous. For now, he predicts the most common use of NFTs by museums should be for proof and maintenance of items in their collections, second would be digital editions accessible to the public.
“NFTs are an integral tech innovation museums can’t afford to ignore if they want to step into the future,” Hallak says. “But they needs to be part of a larger strategic modernization roadmap.”
When asked if fractional ownership diminishes the value of physical precious heirlooms held by museums, Hallak says it’s a fair question but the answer is no. Art just becomes more accessible.
He relates it to the value increase of a private company going public:
“Making art more accessible through fractionalized ownership or limited digital editions, will most likely drive interest, raise the appreciation of the art and artist and eventually increase its value.”
Ownership that comes with fracationalization is key to Web3. It is one of the defining characteristics, which differentiates it from the internet known before.
In the case of museums and the art up for NFT auction, is it really ownership if the art is still under some type of custodianship or is it perceived ownership?
Hallak perceives NFTs as a tool for supporting public art rather than a transfer of custodianship.
“A more likely [NFT] model is funding a public display of artworks and artifacts by creating several digital versions.”
Over time, NFTs will increasingly become an opportunity for museums to capitalize on their collections and curatorial prowess in a digitalized future, as seen with the aforementioned museum in Belgium.
A recent report valued the NFT market to be worth nearly $231 billion by 2030.