Art aficionados curious about the craze surrounding NFTs and the rush to collect such digital assets will want to visit a physical museum in Seattle to get a better appreciation of the phenomenon.
Opening January 14, the Seattle NFT Museum is billed as the first museum dedicated to the emerging art form in the Pacific Northwest, and will showcase artists and serve as a meeting space for enthusiasts and collectors.
SNFTM – not to be confused with SAM or the old EMP or any other artsy acronym – was founded by Seattle entrepreneurs Jennifer Wong and Peter Hamilton. The tech veterans are active in the business and startup community and previously worked together at the marketing company Tune.
Wong is now the head of sustainability at the digital freight startup Convoy and an adjunct professor at the University of Washington. Hamilton, the former CEO of Tune, is now the head of commerce at the streaming television platform Roku.
Wong told GeekWire that digital fluency in Seattle is higher than many places and there is a strong NFT enthusiast looking for more ways to share art and build relationships.
“There is also a boom in curiosity among the general public,” Wong said. “The Seattle NFT Museum is accessible to anyone who has heard the term NFT and wants to learn a little more.”
NFTs, or non-replaceable tokens, are virtual certificates of ownership that are registered as part of a blockchain computer network and have sparked a frenzy among cryptocurrency collectors and enthusiasts. Everything from random internet memes to serious digital artwork can be given unique digital authenticity – and sell for breathtaking prices.
It is hoped that having a real physical location will further boost the Seattle medium. Wong cited inspiration, education, and community as the special space’s three primary goals, saying elements of all three are missing from digital forums and platforms where NFTs are now primarily showcased.
The museum, located at 2125 First Ave. in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, will feature more than 30 high-quality screens for displaying digital art. The museum website calls the quality of the displays “the foundation of this immersive gallery” and the art on display lives on the blockchain and is on loan from artists, creators, galleries and collectors.
The move to a physical gallery is an interesting twist compared to the route of Seattle-based Phosphene, which was launched in May as an online portal of sorts by tech veteran Art Min and Kirsten Anderson, owner of Roq La Rue gallery.
“The reliability and size of the screens offer room for inspiration that scrolling with smartphones can’t,” says Wong. “As powerful as online communities have become, there is little substitute for looking at art, standing next to another person. We need both worlds and we know that in the future there will be so many opportunities to bridge the metaverse with physical experiences.”
The aim is to make NFTs more accessible, showcase digital art and artists, and help people understand how to interpret the art form.
Wong works directly with artists and curates the museum’s opening show. Hamilton manages Discord and collector communities. The two call it a fun passion project, but they need help and are currently seeking administrative, curatorial, community management and IT positions.
In addition to exhibiting art, the Seattle NFT Museum will also be available for NFT coin events, team off-sites, conferences, fundraisers, holiday parties, photo shoots, and more.
Here are artists and collections that will initially be featured by SNFTM:
- Lead Actor, Blake Kathryn: LA 3D artist with a futuristic aesthetic who has collaborated with Lil Nas X, Jimmy Choo, Vox and Warner Brothers. Blake Kathryn will be doing a Q&A at the museum during the opening weekend.
- Collectors showcase, Bird collection: Works by Seattle tech founder and NFT collector Aaron Bird will be the first exhibit on loan to the museum. Bird previously founded the Seattle business marketing startup Bizible and the startup studio Pienza.
- Seattle Artist, Neon Saltwater: Environmental designer and 3D artist based in Seattle, specializing in creating digital and physical rooms. Clients and associates include Barney’s New York, Starbucks, Facebook, Seattle Art Museum, Target, and more.
- Seattle artist, Charles Peterson: Photographer famous for documenting the Seattle grunge music scene of the 1980s and 1990s. Peterson recently broke into the NFT scene selling a collection of rock images.
- Seattle artist, Robbie Trevino: Conceptual artist and illustrator based in Seattle, specializing in surreal and sci-fi illustration and design. Clients include: Lucasfilm, Tool, DeadMau5, Magic the Gathering, Netflix (Love, Death and Robots), Valve, Xbox and more.
- Artist Showcase, H+ Creative: The artist representation office and visual services studio showcases some of the most renowned NFT artists working today.