There are concerns regarding the ownership structure at museums in the wake of the tokenization of entire collections.
Nonfungible Tokens (NFTs) have been employed by museums, individuals, and metaverse initiatives as a fresh way to reposition themselves in front of their audience. At a private event on the Decentraland metaverse platform for its art week in August, the family of Frida Kahlo displayed never-before-seen artwork and personal mementos of the artist.
The Royal Institution of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium, made history by becoming the first museum in Europe to tokenize a priceless work of classic art. In order to protect its cultural heritage and make money in the midst of the continuing regional violence, the Kharkiv Art Museum in Ukraine recently established a new NFT collection with Binance.
But as everything gets tokenized, concerns surface. Will museums eventually just be enormous NFT galleries with digital counterparts for every piece of artwork? In this case, how does ownership actually function?
In order to grasp what an NFTized future for the art world would entail, the founder and CEO of Momentable, a startup that provides support for NFT integration in museums.
“We believe everything will be an NFT. Just like a serial number, for every product there will be an NFT.”
Traditional art and museums are absorbing a layer of Web3, while Web3-native digital art finds a home in virtual museums. Hallak contends that the eventual conversion of museums into enormous NFT galleries is “inevitable.”
Hallak claims that all technology needs to do to become commonplace is get simpler to use. For the time being, he believes that museums should use NFTs primarily for maintaining and verifying the authenticity of the objects in their collections, followed by publically available digital copies.
NFTs are a crucial technological innovation that museums simply cannot ignore if they want to advance, according to Hallak, but they must be integrated into a bigger strategic modernization plan.
When questioned about whether fractional ownership lessens the value of actual, priceless relics kept in museums, Hallak responded that the argument is valid but that the answer is no. Just more people have access to art.
He compared it to how a private company’s worth would rise after 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.”
The key to Web3 is the ownership that comes with fractionalization. It is one of the distinguishing features that set it apart from earlier internet experiences.
If the artwork is still under some form of custodianship in the case of museums and the NFT auction, is it really ownership or is it merely perceived ownership?
NFTs, in Hallak’s opinion, are more of a tool for promoting public art than a transfer of ownership.
“A more likely [NFT] model is funding a public display of artworks and artifacts by creating several digital versions.”
As demonstrated with the aforementioned museum in Belgium, NFTs will eventually turn into a way for museums to profit from their holdings and curatorial expertise in a digitally-driven future.