Musée d’Orsay will also collaborate with the Tezos Foundation on a series of conferences and educational programs over the next year.
The Musée d’Orsay, home to the world’s most extensive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces, has embarked on an innovative journey to engage a broader and younger audience by delving into the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and blockchain technology. The move comes after the museum faced challenges in attracting visitors during the uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2021, d’Orsay grappled with a decline in attendance as the pandemic imposed lockdowns and restrictions. Guillaume Roux, the museum’s director of development, expressed concerns about the decreasing numbers of French and young visitors.
“French people came less, young people came less. We realized that we would have to fight to gain back visitors we had lost,” he told Decrypt.
Musée d’Orsay Joins the Crypto Bandwagon
That same year, the French museum welcomed a new president, Christophe Leribault, who made it his mission to make the Orsay accessible to a broader and younger demographic. He recognized the potential of blockchain and NFTs, which were causing ripples of excitement in the art world, as a means to breathe new life into the institution.
Fast forward nearly two years, and the Musée d’Orsay has announced a groundbreaking partnership with the Tezos Foundation, the brains behind the creation of the Tezos blockchain. The year-long collaboration aims to bring blockchain-backed artwork and digital artists into dialogue with the museum’s vast collections and exhibitions.
To kickstart this partnership, the museum is set to offer on-chain digital souvenirs to visitors attending the forthcoming exhibition, “Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise: The Final Months”, opening on October 3, 2023.
The upcoming exhibition will showcase the works of Vincent van Gogh during the last two months of his life, offering a unique glimpse into his creative genius.
According to a Decrypt report, museum visitors and art enthusiasts can purchase two digital souvenirs associated with the exhibition starting next week. The first is an augmented reality piece representing van Gogh’s final palette. At the same time, the second is an original digital artwork inspired by van Gogh, created by Keru, a French blockchain culture project.
These pieces will be minted on the Tezos blockchain, and they come with gamified elements that offer the chance to win prizes, including lifetime passes to the Musée d’Orsay and invitations to its grand opening events. A total of 2,300 NFTs of each variety will be available for €20 (about $21) each.
Musée d’Orsay to Invite Blockchain Artists for Work Opportunities
In addition to these digital initiatives, d’Orsay and the Tezos Foundation will collaborate on a series of conferences and educational programs over the next year. The programs aim to introduce museum visitors to emerging technologies, including blockchain.
Furthermore, the museum intends to invite digital artists who work with blockchain to create NFT collections inspired by its permanent collection of art pieces, a venture mirroring the ongoing initiative at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
Valerie Whitacre, head of art at Trilitech, the London-based adoption hub of Tezos collaborating with Musée d’Orsay, said that the museum’s experimentation with crypto art aligns with its historic role as a collector of artists who often challenged traditional norms.
“There is Something to Gain for Both Worlds. The Musée d’Orsay has a long lineage of collecting artists that traditionalists might not have otherwise accepted. And there is a beautiful sentiment from the team there that experimenting with crypto art, experimenting with how one can engage audiences that are consuming art in a new way, relates to the overall history of the museum,” said Whitacre.
The museum’s director of development, on the other hand, emphasized the importance of adapting to the times, stating:
“Today, it’s not a question of the number of people we can bring to the museum; it’s a question of being a museum that is conscious of its time, a question of being a museum that is speaking to new generations.”
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Chimamanda is a crypto enthusiast and experienced writer focusing on the dynamic world of cryptocurrencies. She joined the industry in 2019 and has since developed an interest in the emerging economy. She combines her passion for blockchain technology with her love for travel and food, bringing a fresh and engaging perspective to her work.