MetaRembrandt — an upcoming NFT collection by the Rembrandt Heritage Foundation, in partnership with Hodl Finance — celebrates the work of Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, one of the seminal artists of the Dutch Golden Age. The collection is expected to drop later this year.
The NFT collection is a fractionalized sale of a digital restoration of Rembrandt’s famed painting “The Night Watch.” 8,000 NFTs, each representing about 25 square centimeters of the original painting, are expected to go on sale for between $160 and $260. NFT images will be randomly allocated to buyers upon purchase.
The funds from the NFT sale (estimated to be about €1 to €2 million euros, if all the NFTs are sold) will be put toward creating a virtual museum containing 306 of Rembrandt’s works. Each NFT will make holders “founders” of the metaversal museum, granting them lifetime access to the digital collection. Additionally, buyers will be able to rent or loan their NFTs to others, allowing them to access the digital museum, and will receive additional perks like exclusive content access.
The original Night Watch is owned by the City of Amsterdam and is on perpetual loan to Rijksmuseum. The Rijksmuseum is not a partner of the Rembrandt Heritage Foundation or a part of this initiative — but its open data policy states that anyone can use its non-copyrighted images for any purpose.
Why it matters
The primary principles of democratizing art ownership and preserving art in the digital realm are central to this project. It’s truly honorable that the aim of this upcoming museum is to create a virtually accessible collection of Rembrandt’s work — but using NFTs as a gatekeeping mechanism counters this notion of access.
Fundamentally, a MetaRembrandt NFT serves as a price of admission to its forthcoming metaverse museum. While it remains to be seen if access to a digital gallery of Rembrandt’s works will be valuable to a potential collector, the price of a NFT already far exceeds that of a typical museum admission fee that hovers between $10 and $30. As of this writing, there also doesn’t seem to be any documentation by MetaRembrandt as to how it plans to manage NFT loaning to avoid possible price gouging.
Ultimately, this lack of documentation so far surrounding accessibility — compared to the clear messaging of a project like Arkive — might hinder MetaRembrandt’s mission. However, the air of exclusive access might fuel the value of MetaRembrandt’s NFTs, which, in offering fractionalized ownership of an iconic painting, already furthers the organization’s broader goal of preserving the Dutch master’s works on the blockchain.