Updated: Nov 3, 2022
NFTs, also known as non-fungible tokens, are taking over marketplaces all around the world. Essentially serving the same purpose as any other item that can be purchased and collected, the hype around NFTs increases every day. A non-fungible token cannot be replaced or altered, it is special and unique. Anyone that purchases an NFT has absolute ownership of the digital token. NFTs can be in the form of anything from images, to digital art pieces, and music. Recently NFTs have started to become effective tools in the preservation of cultural heritage. Tokens centered around cultural heritage have significant potential in becoming valued assets, especially considering the pace of the globalization of technology in today’s world.
Cultural heritage is divided into two categories: intangible and tangible. Intangible heritage refers to cultural assets and values that do not have a physical entity, while tangible heritage includes everything with a physical form that you can touch, see, feel, listen, and experience. Monuments, buildings, books, and paintings are some examples to the assets of tangible culture. Language, traditions, customs, ethnic religions, and folklore are examples of the assets of intangible culture. So in what category do NFTs fall? The answer is both. NFTs can be considered both tangible and intangible if the artist utilizes the physical realm and the digital realm at the same time.
Recently, heritage institutions have started using NFTs in order to digitally preserve cultural assets. Merging blockchain technologies and 3D digital art, the crypto art project Monuverse is taking cultural heritage to the next level by organizing virtual events and working with world-class artists to create NFTs. The project’s goal is to become the most intriguing and innovative venue within the Metaverse by providing a virtual platform for tourists, brands, art galleries, artists, festivals, and more. In December 2022, Monuverse worked with Ouchhh Studio to create an immersive light show projected on The Arch of Peace in Milan, Italy. It was watched by 5 million people with the aid of live streams and international press coverage.
Large editions of NFT "postcards," made up of 200 Hokusai woodblock prints, have also begun to be sold by the British Museum. As part of their ongoing collaboration with LaCollection, they have already dropped NFTs for twenty additional JMW Turner paintings that are part of the museum's collection.
In order to record and preserve a timeline of important events, the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine even established its own digital NFT museum, highlighting once again that organizations all over the world are open and receptive to using NFTs as effective tools, in order to preserve regional or global cultural heritage.
The cultural heritage sector has been harsh in its criticism of NFTs that claim to transform historic art into blockchain-secured tokens. There have been multiple examples of copyrighted museum artwork being tokenized into NFTs, with institutions relying on the copyright policies of the related marketplace.
The dividing line between virtual and real is much less relevant to the upcoming generation of audiences, who are more likely to prefer a combination of the two. This gives tools like NFTs an opportunity to become popular collectibles that are used to represent ownership of invariable and special items and effectively preserve communities’ valued cultural assets in the digital era that we are currently in.
“How Cultural Heritage Is Leveraging Blockchain and NFTs to Reconnect to Their Audience – Glitch.” How Cultural Heritage Is Leveraging Blockchain and NFTs to Reconnect to Their Audience – Glitch , www.glitchstudios.co/stories-archive/how-cultural-heritage-is-leveraging-blockchain-and-nfts-to-reconnect-to-their-audience. Accessed 23 Oct. 2022.
“NFTS AS CULTURAL HERITAGE &Mdash; UNDRGRND.” UNDRGRND , 19 Apr. 2022, undrgrnd.io/undrgrnd/nfts-as-cultural-heritage.
“Monuverse.” Monuverse , www.monuverse.xyz. Accessed 23 Oct. 2022.
“Non-fungible Token - Wikipedia.” Non-fungible Token - Wikipedia , 1 Mar. 2022, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-fungible_token.