A Non-Fungible Token (NFT) is a new technology based on the blockchain (the underlying mechanism of Bitcoin) that makes it possible to create unique digital assets, which cannot be copied.
You can think of a NFT, as a digital version of a limited edition print, which is signed by the creator digitally (instead of physically) and the print is a digital copy of the artwork instead.
Sales of NFTs in 2021 have already exceeded 10 billion GBP.
NFTs have significantly increased the value of digitised collections.
The Uffizi Gallery was the first museum to sell 1 NFT for more than £100,000.
More recently the British Museum sold its Hokusai prints.
As a new technology NFTs are palgued by technical risks and unknowns (Valeonti et al. 2021).
NFTs are mostly criticised about their carbon footprint, because nearly all major NFT platforms are powered by the Ethereum blockchain, whose carbon footprint is substantial. However, "Green NFTs" already exist, they are increasingly becoming the norm and we also use them at USEUM Collectibles.
Coming out of the pandemic, NFTs have provided a powerful new tool in the hands of arts organisations. If used with caution NFTs can enable entirely new business models for revenue generation for museums and galleries.
For more please check the seminal paper on NFTs and Museums (led by Dr Valeonti), a 12,000 word peer-reviewed journal article covering risks, challenges and opportunities of NFTs in the Heritage sector: Crypto Collectibles Museum Funding and OpenGLAM: Challenges Opportunities and the Potential of Non-fungible tokens.
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