The Ethics of Art Museums and Non-Profit Organizations

3 min read

Consider a world in which you may carry multi-million dollar works of art in your phone’s digital wallet or even own a hue.

The term “NFT,” or “non-fungible token,” refers to the blockchain-based proof of ownership of a digital asset, such as art, music, films, a tweet, or even a meme. Each of these assets has its own unique fingerprint; they cannot be replaced, broken down, replicated, or counterfeited. The Ethereum blockchain, a digital public ledger used to record all transactions of the cryptocurrency Ethereum and other smart contracts, now hosts the majority of NFTs for Muesums.

This is the NFT world.

NFTs have evolved into an extraordinarily creative manner for artists to discuss, promote, and spread their stuff online. They generate scarcity in a previously unimaginable environment, allowing for the ownership of digital items in previously unimaginable ways. The artist not only benefits from the original sale using NFTs, but they also earn a cut every moment their work changes hands. For many digital makers, NFTs are portrayed as the ideal marriage of nature and technology, a bridge among shortage and the digital age’s endless reproducing capacity. And now, museums and galleries want to be a part of it.

NFT platforms for influencers

This is when things become complicated.

For one thing, legal issues about copyright and the commercialization of museum photographs, such as image licensing money, have yet to be resolved. While the financial benefits of selling NFTs to struggling museums are substantial, the ridiculously high rate of digital art sales, such as Beeple’s, has some wondering if this industry is a bubble ready to burst.

There are ethical concerns in addition to financial, legal, and logistical concerns. What type of artwork should be minted as an NFT? Should money be made from art that has been stolen or obtained through violent, typically colonial means? Is it appropriate for museums, which were established to provide public access to quality, to sell NFTs that just a few of the world’s wealthiest individuals can finance?

The advantages of museums participating in the NFT art market are obvious. But do they offset the risks? Allowing a select wealthy few to hold NFTs for Museums priceless works that only exist by consuming large quantities of energy appears contrary to organizations created for the public interest. For better or worse, art museums have given legitimacy to a world of excessive prices and unexplained ethical stakes. Perhaps this is the future of the art industry; NFTs are growing more popular with artists and institutions alike.