Last year, the British Museum became one of the most high-profile museums to incorporate NFTs into their collection. At that time, the museum partnered with a French startup, LaCollection, to auction 200 works by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai as NFTs.
Now the museum intends to mint a follow-up collection. Beginning February 8th, the museum will again collaborate with LaCollection to offer 20 works by English artist JMW Turner as NFTs. These art pieces were bequeathed to The British Museum, by a onetime director of Christie’s auction group, Robert Willey Lloyd 1868-1958.
The museum is offering multiple editions of each work, ranging from two editions (a category they call “Ultra Rare”) to “open editions” (limited to 99 editions each). For each “Ultra Rare” offering, the Museum will keep one edition for themselves. Collectors who previously purchased a Hokusai NFT will have the first chance to buy NFTs in the Ultra Rare and Open Edition categories.
What Traditional Art Museums See in NFTs
We're beginning to witness a relationship between art Museums and the NFT space. Why are museums like the British Museum considering NFTs?
The British Museum’s exploration of NFT sales illustrates how traditional art institutions can benefit from the technology. For example, the British Museum’s NFT collections will allow people from all parts of the world to discover and appreciate these classical artists’ artworks in the emerging ecosystems of web 3 and the “metaverse.” .
The sale also promises to build a bridge between collectors of historic art and digital art collectors. With the trending recognition of NFTs as a valid representation of artworks by respected museums such as the British Museum and the Uffizi Gallery, traditional art collectors may begin to see the benefits offered by expanding existing collections into the NFT space. And in the opposite way, NFT enthusiasts who have previously not collected physical or traditional art may now find themselves becoming interested in the historic and contemporary art collected by these institutions as they begin to collect them in digital space.
The British Museum is not the only museum that has explored the idea of adding NFT artworks to their digital halls - numerous other museums exploring the NFT space include the Uffizi Gallery, the Hermitage Museum, and the Bruce Museum.
While art museums play an important role in preserving the culture and history of nations and of the human race, there has been a steady decline in attendance at many museums recently, especially as a result of the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. The digitization of classic and modern art offers museums a shot at recapturing some interest and attracting new audiences in an increasingly digital age.