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British Museum Partners With LaCollection for First NFT Initiative

The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Hokusai’s most famous print, the first in the series / Image : Wikipedia

A non-fungible token (NFT) platform that is entirely dedicated to museum and institutional collections will partner with the British Museum from the end of September to help the museum sell digitised art in its collection. The digital platform, known as LaCollection, is due to launch on September 30th, and it is supposed to inspire the new art collectors and digital asset enthusiasts by selling NFTs in partnership with some of the best know institutions in the museum and art worlds.

“We are very excited in this partnership with LaCollection,” said Craig Bendle who serves as the licensing manager at the British Museum. “[With them]… we can explore new ways to engage with the growing NFT art market,” he added. According to Bendle, it is important that cultural institutions like the British Museum can adapt to new markets and find new ways of reaching people that they might not reach with traditional channels. “The space afforded by NFTs is novel to many,” Bendle added. “So, showing them how to enter that space in a simple and straightforward way is tremendously exciting.”

To begin the joint venture, the British Museum will be using the new platform to launch NFTs of digital postcards. The first images that will go on sale in this way will be postcards representing the famous works of Katsushika Hokusai. Probably best-known for his striking image of a great wave, Hokusai was a painter and printmaker in the Edo period of Japan. However, it seems that the British Museum is not going to use the LaCollection platform to sell NFTs of his originals, merely of postcard reproductions, the sort of thing it might sell in its museum shop. The difference is that these ‘postcards’ will be in a digital format only with the NFT representing the true ownership of the image, rather than it possibly being a digital copy.

This is because NFTs are blockchain-based tokens that represent unique digital assets. They have taken the art world by storm since the American digital artist Mike Winkelmann, who also goes by the online name of Beeple, set a record earlier this year when he sold an NFT representing for $69.3 million. Of course, Beeple’s NFT was for an original work of art whereas the British Museum is only seeking to sell NFTs of reproductions of Hokusai’s works. Although the NFTs it intends on selling are not likely to chieve anywhere close to some of the sums these digital tokens can attract these days, it is hoped that their sale will promote interest in one of Japan’s most celebrated image-makers.

The launch of the NFT sale is set to coincide with the opening of an exhibition of Hokusai’s works at the museum. According to the museum, the Great Picture Book of Everything will feature over a hundred drawings by Hokusai that have not been seen before in the UK. These images were produced somewhere between 1820 and the artist’s death in 1849 for an encyclopedia that never made it to print. The British Museum said that around 200 NFTs of Hokusai’s artworks will be available to buy via the LaCollection platform.

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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