Imagine staring at Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" or maybe Pablo Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" on your bedroom wall. For most of us, it's never going to happen because these paintings are worth more than the money we've had our hands on in our lifetime.
But what if you could own a digital replica of these paintings that were authenticated and verified by the original owner? And what if these digital replicas could be viewed and experienced in ways that isn’t currently possible?
A UK art dealership called Unit London recently wrapped up the exhibition "Eternalizing Art History," where it showcased six high-resolution replicas of some of history's most renowned paintings. Each replica was a framed LED screen that finely represented every minute detail of the original artwork.
The LED reproductions came attached with an NFT, where Unit London hoped to lure prospective buyers with the possibility of collecting an artwork that would one day be worth a fortune.
The art dealership's decision to venture into NFT art is anything but surprising. It's just one of the handful of examples of art galleries and museums acknowledging the need to finally embrace NFTs as a revenue stream, but few are seeing their potential as possible artworks hanging on their walls.
A Case For Change
The art world has struggled to keep up with the rapidly changing digital landscape. Art galleries have been forced to shut their doors due to the pandemic, and many artists have lost their primary source of income.
Russia's State Hermitage Museum was one of the first museums to experiment with NFTs when it auctioned off digital replicas of its five most valuable paintings, eventually netting a little over $400,000 without giving up the original pieces.
NFTs are becoming the saving grace for these struggling art institutions. They would be able to auction off digital replicas of their paintings, but they would also be able to keep the originals on display for the public to enjoy.
How Could Digital Collectables Be Displayed?
But auctioning and selling digital replicas minted into NFTs might not be enough. There eventually will come a time when museums will want to display these digital artworks as well. In fact, there is already a museum that is dedicated exclusively to NFTs in Seattle. This museum provides a creative outlet for artists and art lovers who wish to experience art in a new and different way.
Will more museums dedicate their resources to displaying NFTs? It certainly opens up audiences to new experiences and possibilities.
It would be a way for museums to experiment with new technology and give visitors a taste of the future of art. And with the right marketing, these exhibitions could generate a lot of interest from people who might not otherwise visit the museum.
The interest lies in the different ways NFT art could be displayed. In Seattle, the NFTs are
The artwork could be displayed on a digital screen, and viewers can use their phones or other devices to scan a QR code that would take them to the NFT's page on a blockchain explorer.
The artwork could be on a large digital touch screen with the ability to find out more about the art or even move it around with the swipe of a finger.
Another option is the NFT could be projected like a 3-dimensional hologram you might think about in a Star Wars or Star Trek show with the ability to walk around or through it.
The beautiful thing about digital art is that museums wouldn’t be limited by any physical aspect and it could be up to the museum curator what type of experience he or she would like to leave their patrons with.
Museums have always been slow to adapt to new technology, but the current state-of-the-art world might force them to venture into new territory and to think outside the box. The recent popularity of NFTs might just be the thing that finally gets them on board.
As traditionists, museums have been displaying static, flat images for hundreds of years. However, it may not be the way forward as audiences expect a more robust, interactive, and immersive experience – something the younger generation might just demand.
Generative Art Give Museums a Global Reach
Art galleries and museums could also display NFT art to give them a global reach. Why limit themselves to a physical location when there is potential for so much more?
NFTs have the potential to take art galleries and museums beyond their brick-and-mortar locations. They'll reach new audiences and tap into new markets.
Museums have always been limited by their physical locations. But with NFTs, museums can connect with people all over the world. And since NFTs can be viewed 24/7, museums might never have to close but could cause a global impact, unlike any other museum before it.
Expansive and Inclusive Ownership
If only more museums open their doors to NFT art, it'll eliminate the stereotype of the art industry being an elitist. Traditional art has always been expensive, making masterpieces inaccessible to the average individual.
But with NFT art, there's a case of expansive ownership since prices will become highly competitive. Therefore, more people may eventually afford to buy digital versions of classic pieces, which will increase the number of art collectors. Isn't that beneficial to art galleries and museums?
Inclusivity will bring about a new sense of community in the art world. When people feel like they're part of a group, they're more likely to invest their time and money into it. In other words, by displaying NFT art, museums and art galleries help foster a love for art in those who may have previously been excluded.
What's Stopping Museums From Displaying Generative Art?
The main obstacle museums and art galleries face is the lack of understanding of how NFTs work and perhaps a will to innovate. Many museums still view NFT as a speculative investment rather than a legitimate form of art. Even those who have embraced NFTs see them as little more than a way to make money. But they haven’t yet embraced the full potential of this new art form.
The art world is a conservative industry, and many people are hesitant to embrace new technologies. But with the current state of the art world, change is inevitable.
NFTs are still a new technology, and the infrastructure isn't yet in place to make them more accessible to the general public. Diversity is also an issue, with most NFTs being created by and for a small, elite group of people.
These are valid concerns, but they shouldn't stop museums and art galleries from displaying NFT art. With the right education and outreach, these obstacles can be overcome and for once, museums can become leaders instead of reactionaries.