Art lovers curious about what to make of the craze around NFTs and the rush to collect such digital assets will have a physical museum to visit in Seattle to gain a better appreciation for the phenomenon.
The Seattle NFT Museum, opening Jan. 14, is being billed as the first museum dedicated to the emerging artform in the Pacific Northwest, and will showcase artists and serve as a gathering space for enthusiasts and collectors.
SNFTM — not to be confused with SAM or the old EMP or any other arty 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 as well as an adjunct professor at the University of Washington. Hamilton, the former CEO at Tune, is now the head of commerce at the streaming television platform Roku.
Wong told GeekWire that digital fluency in Seattle is higher than in many places and there is a strong NFT enthusiast base looking for more ways to share art and build relationships.
“There is also a boom in curiosity across the general public,” Wong said. “The Seattle NFT Museum is approachable for anyone who has heard the term NFT and wants to learn a little more.”
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are virtual certificates of ownership that are recorded as part of a blockchain computing network and have sparked a frenzy among collectors and cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Everything from random internet memes to serious digital artwork can being assigned unique digital authenticity — and sold for breathtaking sums.
It’s hoped that having an actual brick-and-mortar location puts a further boost into the medium in Seattle. Wong called inspiration, education, and community the three primary goals of the dedicated space, and said 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 art that is on display lives on the blockchain and is presented on loan from artists, creators, galleries, and collectors.
The move to a physical gallery is an interesting twist compared to the route taken by Seattle-based Phosphene, which was launched as an online portal of sorts in May by tech veteran Art Min and Kirsten Anderson, owner of Roq La Rue gallery.
“The fidelity and size of displays make space for inspiration that smartphone scrolling can’t provide,” Wong said. “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 there will be so many opportunities to bridge the metaverse with physical experiences in the future.”
The goal is to make NFTs more accessible, bring exposure to digital art and artists and help people understand how to interpret the artform.
Wong is working directly with artists, curating for the museum’s opening show. Hamilton is managing Discord and collector communities. The two call it a fun passion project, but they will need help and are currently hiring for administration, curation, community management, and IT roles.
In addition to the display of art, Seattle NFT Museum will also be available for NFT minting events, team off-sites, conferences, fundraisers, holiday parties, photoshoots and more.
Here are artists and collections that will be initially featured by SNFTM:
- Headlining artist, Blake Kathryn: L.A.-based 3D artist with a futuristic aesthetic who has done collaborations with Lil Nas X, Jimmy Choo, Vox, and Warner Brothers. Blake Kathryn will do a Q&A at the museum on opening weekend.
- Collector showcase, Bird Collection: Works owned by Seattle tech founder and NFT collector Aaron Bird will be on loan to the museum as its first exhibition. 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 collaborators have included Barney’s New York, Starbucks, Facebook, Seattle Art Museum, Target, and more.
- Seattle artist, Charles Peterson: Photographer famous for his documentation of the Seattle grunge music scene of the 1980s and ’90s. Peterson just recently broke onto the NFT scene with the sale of 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 firm and visual services studio showcases some of the most reputable NFT artists working today.