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Boston Museum Creates NFT Collection to Fundraise for Conservation Work

Visitors at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Museum of Fine Arts, one of Boston’s most prestigious public art institutions, announced recently that it would be selling off NFTs of some of the artworks it has in its collection. The idea of creating digital versions of some of its most famous works of art to sell came about when the museum’s management team decided they need to fund a costly conservation programme for some of its paintings by the French impressionist, Edgar Degas. According to a press statement issued by the Museum of Fine Arts, the gallery will be creating NFTs of other impressionist works. Fittingly, these will be pastels by artists such as Monet because the works that the Boston-based institution wants to restore are also delicate pastel-derived works.

The team behind the digitised versions of the artworks said that the initiative would not be undertaken by the gallery alone. In fact, it is expected that the project will consist of a partnership with LaCollection, a firm that has already generated numerous high-quality NFTs of physical artworks around the globe. The pastel works of art that have been chosen for the fundraising project were all created between 1860 and 1910 when the impressionist and post-impressionist movements were at their height in Europe. According to LaCollection, the digitised versions of these pieces will be available to bid for on the company’s digital marketplace from July 14th.

The Museum of Fine Arts said that all of the money raised from the sales of NFTs will be devoted to the conservation of two paintings by Degas in the museum’s possession. The first is Edmondo and Therese Morbilli, a portrait of a couple which was painted in 1865 or 1866. The other is entitled Father Listening to Lorenzo Pagans Playing the Guitar. Painted sometime between 1869 and 1872, this image features a private banker named Auguste de Gas, Degas’ father, listening carefully to the music of the Catalan singer, musician and composer. Both works require the attention of expert conservationists if they are to be brought back into the sort of condition that Degas would have known them to be in during his lifetime.

Anyone who is interested in making a purchase from the gallery’s NFT collection should know that the common blockchain technology that is used in many fields of commerce these days will allow them to prove ownership of their digital asset. However, the physical versions of the works of art will remain in the gallery’s collection. That said, there are some highlights from the sale that will undoubtedly garner attention from collectors. For example, the NFT collection includes Broad Landscape, a piece by Monet that was made in about 1862. Another one by Monet, View of the Sea at Sunset, is also available to purchase. This landscape was painted in the early 1860s and it is thought to have been among the first pastel artworks that Monet chose to exhibit at the famous Impressionist exhibition in Paris of 1874, the first such art show of its kind.

In addition, the Boston-based gallery has instructed LaCollection to make digital versions of a number of pastels by Jean-François Millet, one of the founders of the Barbizon school of art. His NFTs include Dandelions, painted in 1867 and 1868, as well as Farmyard by Moonlight, a work of 1868. Degas’ NFTs include two that have been drawn from the artist’s notable series of works that focussed on the movement of ballet dancers. Anyone who wants to own a digital version of Dancers Resting, made from about 1881, or Dancers in Rose, a turn-of-the-century image, will now have the opportunity to do so.

According to the museum, no fewer than 24 NFTs will be auctioned. The starting price for each digital image is set at $314 – about £265 – but the sum each is expected to fetch will most likely be higher given the interest there is in NFTs of famous pieces these days. “By minting digital versions of our artworks… we can leverage new modalities so we are able to share our collection more broadly,” the MFA’s chief operating officer, Eric Woods, said.

Interested in learning more about Museums and NFTs, read more here.

About the author – Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr is a journalist working in the arts and cultural sectors. With a background in marketing, Manuel is drawn to arts organizations which are prepared to try inventive ways to reach new audiences.

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