The world’s first museum dedicated to non-fungible tokens has opened, and it’s not online.
The 3,000-square-foot Seattle NFT Museum marks its public opening on Thursday with the claim that it is the first art museum and gallery to dedicate its programming to crypto art.
For a museum centred on a new and developing technology, it follows much of the established institutions’ ways. Inside, it looks like any white cube, with wall texts and works displayed on mounted high-resolution screens.
Part of the museum’s mission is to increase and improve knowledge of NFTs. The wall texts serve as explainers for visitors to learn more about blockchain art and staff are reportedly present for further discussions.
Over the last year, NFTs have been mushrooming online and in the art world ever since Beeple’s artwork sold for $69 million at a Christie’s auction in March 2021.
However, the history of NFTs goes further than that, the museum points out, tracing its origins back to a work by Kevin McCoy from 2014. Titled Quantum, the work features a flashing octagon and contained an “NFT-type certificate of ownership” after it was minted on the Namecoin blockchain eight years ago.
McCoy recently sold a version of the NFT through a Sotheby’s auction in June last year. It was bought for $1.4 million.
The works included in Seattle NFT Museum's inaugural exhibition include glossy, futuristic and fantastical characters created by Blake Kathryn, a 3D artist working in Los Angeles.
There are also the colourful 3D environments visualised by Neon Saltwater, who renders uncanny interior spaces, including bedrooms suffused with rainbow hues.
The museum is also featuring photographs by Charles Peterson, known for documenting the grunge scene of the late 1980s to early 1990s in Seattle and other parts of the Pacific Northwest. His works include black and white images of performances by Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana.
The museum has partnered with NFT collector Aaron Bird to lend works from his collection, which include creations from Larva Labs’ CryptoPunks series and generative art by Tyler Hobbs and Snowfro.
In a statement on the museum’s website, Seattle NFT Museum co-founder Jennifer Wong explained the museum’s goals. “We wanted to create a space to serve the NFT community while helping put Seattle on the map as a hub for NFT and blockchain innovation,” she wrote. “We’re not experts, and we’re here to learn as much as anyone. That is why we are counting on the feedback and support of NFT enthusiasts to continue growing the vision.”