The First NFT Marketplace Dedicated to Cultural Heritage Institutions

by Elysian Magazine

The idea for Iconic Moments was born in November 2020 when Founder and CEO Chris Cummings noticed a gap in the world of NFTs: there were no NFT marketplaces dedicated to cultural institutions. At that time, many cultural institutions were in dire straits due to the pandemic closures that dried up so many in-person revenue streams. For most of the cultural heritage industry — galleries, museums, libraries, archives, and such — the vast majority of their revenue came from these in-person visits and events. he pandemic helped Iconic Moments realize that cultural institutions needed to become less dependent on in-person visitor experience, galas, and once-a-year fundraising events.

NFTs are their solution, and the mission has become creating a sustainable financial model for the preservation of the history and knowledge held within cultural institutions through NFTS. Once this was outlined, the real work began, and the startup has begun partnering with institutions to create NFTs and has begun building a curated NFT marketplace to display and sell those NFTs.

NFTs benefit everyone involved: buyers are able to own pieces of history or art that are guaranteed to be fully sanctioned and verified by the originating institution, and they know they’re supporting the institution and their cause. Cultural institutions are able to generate additional revenue and reach new audiences. Furthermore, NFTs and the Blockchain (the “locked ledger” that you may have read about recently, in our Blockchain article) are a surprisingly good fit with cultural institutions, as they are built on many of the same foundation blocks: preservation, provenance, and proof of ownership.

One of the defining (and never-ending) tasks of cultural institutions is to preserve the artifacts and the knowledge in their care for future generations to learn from and enjoy. “Provenance” is the history of an object: who created it, who has owned it, where it has been, and so on. Proof of ownership is exactly what it sounds like: proof, via provenance and purchase documentation, that a cultural institution owns an object and has the legal rights to use it. The Blockchain has built-in answers to all three of these foundational needs via its locked ledger that permanently and publicly records all of its transactions. Finally, NFTs enable museums to share their work with a broader audience and to display their content in digital spaces that cannot be shut down overnight by a pandemic.

One of the greatest strengths of cultural institutions is their ability to share stories about the world and history through curation. Iconic Moments wants to highlight this. Not only is the sharing of knowledge one of the strengths of cultural institutions, every item in their collections — and therefore every NFT they release — has a story worth telling. Accordingly, a cornerstone of the Iconic Moments marketplace will be the curation of its content. They are working closely with their clients to create NFT drops that highlight the meaning and stories behind both the collection as a whole and each individual NFT. Adding meaning through these stories can increase the NFTs more beyond the technology they are stored on.

The current state of NFTs and the Blockchain is often likened to the early days of the Internet in the 1990s, when the potential felt limitless and barely touched. Some of the untapped potential we see is a new, sustainable model for the preservation of the history and knowledge contained within cultural institutions, and Iconic Moments is hard at work bringing this model to life through our NFT marketplace.

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By Sadie Ouzts

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