The British Museum Will Enter the Metaverse via ‘The Sandbox’


London cultural stalwart The British Museum is partnering with Ethereum-based metaverse game, The Sandbox, to create a range of NFT digital collectibles in conjunction with the museum’s licensing partner, French startup LaCollection. 

According to a press release, these will “reflect the breadth and depth of The British Museum’s collections,” offering “new immersive experiences.” The British Museum will also create its own immersive space within the online game world, putting it alongside modern cultural icons like Snoop Dogg, McDonald’s, Adidas, and Gucci.

“This is a great opportunity for The Sandbox players, regardless of where they are, to learn about the amazing wealth of human history, art, and culture that The British Museum has to offer,” The Sandbox COO and co-founder Sebastien Borget said, in a statement. 

A representative from The British Museum added that the institution was eager to explore “new and innovative ways of sharing its collection and reaching new audiences.”

However, this is not a Web3 first for the institution. While it was founded in 1753, constituting the world’s first national public museum, it has been swift to embrace innovation.

The museum has previously collaborated with LaCollection on three NFT collections. The relationship began in September 2021 with an auction of 200 digital postcards of works by Katsushika Hokusai, including a rendering of the Japanese artist’s populist woodblock print “Under the Wave, Off Kanagawa,” a.k.a. “The Great Wave,” which he created in 1831.

That was followed by an auction of 20 tokenized versions of works by British artist Joseph Mallord William Turner in spring 2022, which included the dramatic watercolor painting “A Storm (Shipwreck)” from 1823.

The group of paintings hailed from a collection bequeathed to the museum by Robert Wylie Lloyd, a former chairman of Christie’s. Given that the terms of his bequest stipulated the works could only be shown for two weeks a year or by special request (and should never be lent), the initiative presented an opportunity for their wider appreciation. 

The institution’s most recent sale featured NFT artwork depicting 20 pen and chalk drawings from The British Museum’s collection by Venetian-born draftsman, Giambattista Piranesi.

In Paris, the city’s Pompidou Center made its own Web3 debut in January with the year-long exhibition, “Policies of the Immaterial: From Certificate to Blockchain.”

The show explores the relationships between blockchain and art, and includes CryptoPunk #110, which was gifted to the museum by CryptoPunks parent Yuga Labs. The exhibit also includes examples of crypto, generative and pixel art.

For its own part, The Sandbox announced the creation of an in-game museum dedicated to NFT profile picture project World of Women last year—just one element of the platform’s five-year, $25 million initiative to create a WoW Foundation.

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