The Whitworth Announces the First UK Museum-Accredited NFT

20th of July 2021. A day on which ground-breaking news for the art and NFT space is announced. In partnership with Vastari Labs, Manchester-based gallery the Whitworth is launching the first UK museum-accredited NFT for an exhibition. This revolutionary innitiative comes as part of an exciting research project and exhibition, Economics the Blockbuster, which seeks to explore alternative funding models for social art practice.

On a webinar hosted today featuring the Whitworth’s curator Poppy Bowers, Alistair Hudson, Director of the Whitworth & Manchester Art Gallery, Bernadine Brocker of Vastari Labs and Jason Bailey (perhaps better known to many of you as Artnome), the exciting development was announced. In the online meeting, Bowers describes how “funding has been deflated” in the UK art scene and how she sees exploring NFT space as an alternative funding method for Museums and galleries. Also, Bowers shares her inspiration for this new project and what has or has not worked well so far, the important things cultural institutions should consider if thinking about minting NFTs and potential pitfalls that museums should watch out for regarding the blockchain space. This new project is seen as a way to test the waters and measure the effectiveness of bringing NFTs to regular museums/galleries and the impact this can have on funding.

William Blake (1757 - 1827), Europe Plate i: Frontispiece, The Ancient of Days , c.1827, relief etching, ink, watercolour, body colour on paper. H 232 x W 170 mm. Gift from John Edward Taylor, 1892. Courtesy of the Whitworth, The University of Manchester.

The image in mention is William Blake’s iconic The Ancient of Days, a celebrated piece of art of which the original has been a part of the Whitworth’s collection for quite some time. Designed by Blake himself, the image became the frontispiece for his prophetic book Europe a Prophecy. Presenting a new perspective on the original work, the NFT image has been generated with multispectral imaging software at The John Rylands Research Institute, using algorithms and data science to add a new dimension to the original piece. There will be 50 editions minted by Whitworth, with two being retained for perpetuity.

You can view the NFT here. The edition will go on sale on the hic et nunc NFT marketplace on the 28th of July 2021, with a 20% creator royalty built into the contract. Proceeds will go into the Whitworth community fund to help sponsor socially beneficial projects in the surrounding areas. The Whitworth's release marks a revolutionary step for the UK art scene as we see traditional art practices begin to experiment with the endless possibilities NFTs offer us.

View of the artwork on hic et nunc

You can keep an eye on the release countdown here.

To learn more how to buy, you can read our guide here.

Cover image: The Ancient of Days NFT (detail), 2021, digital multispectral image, 5000x7000px , edition of 50 with 2 museum proofs. Courtesy of the Whitworth, The University of Manchester.

Written by
Alistair Cavan

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