Art museums have had a rough time lately. In 2020, most had to keep their doors closed for long stretches due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A year later, many are still coping with a cash-strapped new normal.

Meanwhile, non-fungible tokens associated with works of art have gotten trendy. But it’s not clear that these newfangled digital assets, commonly called NFTs, can solve museums’ money problems. Ohio State accounting scholar Brian Mittendorf and Sean Stein Smith, a business professor who is studying NFTs and other crypto-assets, teamed up to offer four reasons why “museums have failed to turn the NFT craze into a financial windfall.”

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Emily Schwartz Greco

Philanthropy + Nonprofits Editor

A woman looks at a non-fungible token digital art display in New York City in September 2021. Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

4 reasons why museums aren’t cashing in on NFTs yet

Brian Mittendorf, The Ohio State University; Sean Stein Smith, Lehman College, CUNY

The people in charge of museums may lack the requisite expertise to manage non-fungible tokens, and the upside is far from guaranteed.


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