British Museum presses on minting NFTs despite crypto crash—when will UK museums stop seeing artworks as assets?


After more than 50 outings, this diary won a small victory. Following my article on the carbon cost of NFT sales at the British Museum, the company behind the operation reviewed its environmental policy. Previously, the La Collection stated that it would plant one tree for each NFT created, which underestimated the amount of carbon the NFT would produce during its lifetime (of the blockchain). Because each transaction is very energy intensive). Today, the La Collection states, “We are not just planting trees, we are actually growing the entire forest.” It’s good to know that I’m doing my bit for the planet in one rant column at a time.

Can forests live longer than NFTs? I’m writing during a cryptocurrency crash. Bitcoin is down 70% from its peak. Ethereum, which is used to trade NFTs, has fallen further. However, the British Museum was tenacious and released a new NFT drawing of Piranage. Can the quantitative easing of this museum continue? One of the museum’s Hokusai NFTs, which sold for $ 20,000 in November, is now worth just under $ 5,000. You can still buy the actual Hokusai prints cheaper. Our people who warned that it wouldn’t last were told that we didn’t understand the crypto. But one asset bubble is very similar to another.

My good friends don’t say “yes”, but it’s going well now. Inspired by the news that the UK art market is going down from the second largest to the third in the world, I revisited the article I wrote. Art newspaper Only five days after the Brexit referendum. We predicted that higher tariffs and shipping costs would lead to a shrinking art market. He also predicted that many of the changes the market wanted Brexit to bring would be the abolition of artist resale rights and the import of VAT. They never did. And what about this for fortune-tellers: I predicted that Boris Johnson would be prime minister. I even said he would be a disaster. But I think we all knew it.

On the other hand, readers of the diary who have been suffering for many years will remember many times that I was wrong. This surprises me because I feel retrospective. In February 2021, I criticized the museum for dismissing so many staff, arguing that after the pandemic, the museum saw a flood of visitors and would soon be rehired. However, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) figures for the first quarter of 2022 show that the number of visitors has dropped significantly, down more than 50% compared to the same period in 2019. Is shown.

Does this represent people’s attention when the restrictions are over? Do foreign visitors refuse to return? Or are we not so interested in the real thing now because we were used to consuming so many remote areas at home, including culture? Do you know. However, I noticed another concern with DCMS statistics. During the pandemic, access to the museum’s website actually declined. Overall, it reflects what I felt at the time that British museums did not respond well to serving viewers digitally.

This is probably because the museum sees the image of the artwork (the foundation of the museum’s website) as an asset to monetize (via image fees or NFTs) rather than freely using it. Therefore, the general public will only see poor quality images on unattractive websites. In contrast, museums with no image restrictions, such as the Rijksmuseum, saw record-breaking virtual engagement during a pandemic. Still, I’m optimistic enough to believe that British museums will one day follow. If so, it would be the ultimate victory in the diary, but I don’t predict.


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