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Article

Crypto Collectibles, Museum Funding and OpenGLAM: Challenges, Opportunities and the Potential of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

1
Department of Information Studies, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK
2
College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh, 56 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9JU, UK
3
Institute for Design Informatics, University of Edinburgh, 47 Potterrow, Edinburgh EH8 9BT, UK
4
Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London, 90 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 4TJ, UK
5
Novi Financial, Facebook Research, 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Paraskevi Raftopoulou, Akrivi Katifori, Angeliki Antoniou and Areti Damala
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(21), 9931; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11219931
Received: 1 September 2021 / Revised: 14 October 2021 / Accepted: 19 October 2021 / Published: 24 October 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies in Digitizing Cultural Heritage)
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) make it technically possible for digital assets to be owned and traded, introducing the concept of scarcity in the digital realm for the first time. Resulting from this technical development, this paper asks the question, do they provide an opportunity for fundraising for galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM), by selling ownership of digital copies of their collections? Although NFTs in their current format were first invented in 2017 as a means for game players to trade virtual goods, they reached the mainstream in 2021, when the auction house Christie’s held their first-ever sale exclusively for an NFT of a digital image, that was eventually sold for a record 69 million USD. The potential of NFTs to generate significant revenue for artists and museums by selling effectively a cryptographically signed copy of a digital image (similar to real-world limited editions, which are signed and numbered copies of a given artwork), has sparked the interest of the financially deprived museum and heritage sector with world-renowned institutions such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Hermitage Museum, having already employed NFTs in order to raise funds. Concerns surrounding the environmental impact of blockchain technology and the rise of malicious projects, exploiting previously digitised heritage content made available through OpenGLAM licensing, have attracted criticism over the speculative use of the technology. In this paper, we present the current state of affairs in relation to NFTs and the cultural heritage sector, identifying challenges, whilst highlighting opportunities that they create for revenue generation, in order to help address the ever-increasing financial challenges of galleries and museums. View Full-Text
Keywords: non-fungible tokens; museum funding; OpenGLAM; digitised collections non-fungible tokens; museum funding; OpenGLAM; digitised collections
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MDPI and ACS Style

Valeonti, F.; Bikakis, A.; Terras, M.; Speed, C.; Hudson-Smith, A.; Chalkias, K. Crypto Collectibles, Museum Funding and OpenGLAM: Challenges, Opportunities and the Potential of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Appl. Sci. 2021, 11, 9931. https://doi.org/10.3390/app11219931

AMA Style

Valeonti F, Bikakis A, Terras M, Speed C, Hudson-Smith A, Chalkias K. Crypto Collectibles, Museum Funding and OpenGLAM: Challenges, Opportunities and the Potential of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Applied Sciences. 2021; 11(21):9931. https://doi.org/10.3390/app11219931

Chicago/Turabian Style

Valeonti, Foteini, Antonis Bikakis, Melissa Terras, Chris Speed, Andrew Hudson-Smith, and Konstantinos Chalkias. 2021. "Crypto Collectibles, Museum Funding and OpenGLAM: Challenges, Opportunities and the Potential of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)" Applied Sciences 11, no. 21: 9931. https://doi.org/10.3390/app11219931

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