Whitworth produces William Blake NFT to support socially beneficial projects 3 Aug 2021

The Whitworth is producing a non-fungible token of William Blake’s 1794 image The Ancient of Days, which it holds in its collections, to fund socially beneficial projects. Launched on the online platform Vastari labs in late July as the first ‘UK museum-accredited NFT’, it will run to an edition of 50. The Whitworth will be retaining two and will receive 20% creator royalties. In a film introducing the project Director Alistair Hudson says “The Whitworth decided to embark on this project because it wanted to think about how it could redistribute the wealth of its collections in the most democratic way. This technology offers the opportunity to open up the collections to the broadest possible audience.” It is produced as part of a research project called ‘Economics, the Blockbuster’, which looks at the problems of existing economic models and proposes new ones offering wider social benefit. This project will track the activity of the NFT over two years, recording conversations around it, and include the results in an exhibition in 2023. There has recently been a spike in cultural organisations looking to profit from NFTs – the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg is exploring selling NFTs for digital versions of art in its collection, artist Damien Hirst is launching his own digital currency, and Dallas Symphony Orchestra is launching NFTs priced between $100 for a concert recording plus memorabilia to over $50,000 for a luxury event next year. Art Newspaper, Whitworth, MuseumNext, FT (Hirst, paywall), Art+Seek