Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery is Russia’s main art museum and is considered to have been first founded in 1856 when Pavel Tretyakov acquired two paintings by Russian artists. Tretyakov would go on to collect works throughout his life before gifting the museum to the city allowing Russians to experience the great art behind the country. Tretyakov then became the county’s first public gallery. The museum now plans to give Russian and international visitors, alike, a new way to experience the museum and support its collection.
The gallery has plans to digitize the entirety of its 190,000-plus objects spanning 160 years through a new app called My Tretyakov. The app will encourage museum-goers to sponsor artworks from the museum’s collection. Following the lead of Dadiani Syndicate in the UK, who, in June, held the world’s first auction using the cryptocurrency, the gallery’s app will be powered by blockchain technology. The app will then allow for guests to become donors by personally supporting an artwork or to gift patronage to others. Announced in November at the seventh St Petersburg International Cultural Forum, My Tretyakov is coming to fruition with the help of RDI Digital, an innovative business collective, and Riddle & Code, an Austrian-based blockchain interface.
As donors contribute to the app, My Tretyakov will randomly select an artwork for the donation to digitize. The blockchain technology will ensure the safety and reliability of the donations sent through the app. Each time the artwork is subsequently shown in digital form, donors will be mentioned as sponsors of the artwork. It has yet to be decided, though, if and what the minimum donation will be. There will, however, be incentives to donate in this new-age manner. Each user will receive ‘tokens’ to then spend on exclusive and educational programmes or exchange for discounts in the gallery gift shop. My Tretyakov essentially becomes a modern form of gallery membership.
Zelfira Tregulova, director of the Tretyakov, stated: ‘[t]he project aims to overcome geographical limitations, bring people interested in art closer together, and give users a sense of belonging to cultural heritage while engaging a new, younger audience. We’ve set an ambitious goal—to make Russian art an important part of the life of people around the world.’
The Tretyakov gallery expects blockchain to become more important to museums and galleries as digitalized collections grow. The cryptocurrency is also able to securely store information on the provenance, ownership, and history of museum items. According to a gallery spokeswoman, this will mark the first time that a gallery has harnessed the power of blockchain in both Russia and the rest of the world.
Interested parties can sign up for a mailing list concerning the release of My Tretyakov here.