The State Hermitage Museum continues to dive into the non-fungible tokens (NFT) industry with its first all-virtual digital art gallery.

Shortly after raising more than $400,000 in its first NFT auction in September on Binance, Hermitage is now hosting a free exhibition of NFT art located exclusively in a virtual space, the so-called “Heavenly Hermitage,” or Digital Museum Avatar.

The exhibit at the Hermitage, which opened Thursday, is called “Airtime” and is based on the metaverse concept, which allows users to create digital avatars and view a virtual website using computers, smartphones, VR glasses and other devices. The virtual platform mimics the interior of the local landmarks of the old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange, but according to the first person in charge of the project, the exhibition itself has nothing to do with trade.

Source: Broadcast Gallery.
Exhibition works are not for sale. We avoid all topics related to the price of these works in order to focus on showing what digital art really is, because the price of art is secondary compared to its value.

Ozerkov noted that the Hermitage will return all artworks to their original owners, including artists and collectors, immediately after the gallery closes on December 10. “Additional activities are not the museum’s prerogative,” he added.

At a press conference on Thursday, Ozerkov stressed that the Hermitage had “no financial interest” in holding a free exhibition, and noted that the museum was seeking to find out the true value of the NFT. “We want to see the rest of the NFT by removing the cash side,” he said.

The artists and works for Live Air were selected by curators Ozerkov and Anastasia Garnova, employee of the Contemporary Art Department of the Hermitage.

“We believe the selection of curators is critical to the museum’s exhibition as it makes it more integrated by subject and chapter. The principle of selection is based on the importance of the artwork to understanding the NFT,” Garnova told Cointelegraph. “Artists cannot apply to participate in the exhibition,” she added.

A full list of artworks is available on the gallery’s official website: 37 artworks in total, including CryptoKitties’ Schrödinger’s Cat, a popular blockchain game created by Canadian studio Dapper Labs on the Ethereum network. The list also includes works by Saint Petersburg artist Darkzuu.

The fair also features NFT platforms and major industry players such as Snark.art, Masters digital, The Art Exchange, Rarible, Superrare, KnownOrigin, ArtBlocks, Alterhen.art and OpenSea. As previously reported, the exhibition was organized with the support of the Aksenov Family Foundation, a local fund for cultural and social innovation.

On the topic: Beyond Advertising, NFT: Building sustainable business models for artists

The exhibition space is a joint work of augmented reality startup Arhead.io, Masters Digital, and meta-architect Oleg Soroko. Ivan Pozyrev, one of the founders of Arhead.io, noted that socialization is one of the most important components of the exhibition. “We built a project on the idea that digital experiences should be shared. People share instructions, discuss work, and laugh as they get into the fabric of the room.”

Nadia Taiga, CEO and curator of art production platform Snark.art, is one of the key employees of The Ethereal Aether and serves as a galleries consultant. “If a year ago we could only have predicted that museums would digitize their collections and create digital exhibitions in the metaverse, now, when we see the example of the Hermitage and this exhibition, we know that is indeed a fact,” she said.

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