Last week, a group of 10 major museums, including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Swiss National Museum in Zurich, and Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico unveiled a series of blockchain projects through Web3 for the Arts and Culture (WAC) Lab.

During the livestreamed demo on May 30, the museums presented projects aimed at establishing new kinds of relationships with museumgoers, from innovative fundraising models to live “minting” experiences. The aim, according to the organization, is to help museums “engage younger, tech-savvy audiences, secure funding, and stay relevant in a rapidly digitizing world.”

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WAC Lab was launched in 2021 by the France-based nongovernmental organization We Are Museums with the goal of educating cultural institutions in Web3 and transforming them into “emerging technology pioneers.” It is supported by the Tezos Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Tezos blockchain, which has long been the art world’s blockchain of choice because of its engagement with the industry and lower environmental impact.

“It is obvious that museums have to adapt to new models and challenges, and change drastically to do so,” Diane Drubay, founder of We Are Museums and WAC Lab, told ARTnews. “One of the main challenges is the speed at which they need to adapt, but if they manage to do so, these museums will become relevant for the present generation and even more for future generations.”

The WAC Lab program includes a six-week fellowship that trains museum professionals to be Web3-literate, and a regular online discussion for the same arts personnel, WAC Weekly, about leveraging blockchain technology. There is also a monthlong accelerator program, now in its third season, that helps institutions build blockchain projects that they pitch. Projects rely on a variety of funding models, from institutional financing to self-raised budgets.

Each season of WAC Lab focuses on a particular theme; past ones have covered fundraising, NFTs, and acquisitions. The most recent season, which ran from April 22 to May 19, took the “creative application of blockchain even further by blending museum culture with blockchain culture … to unveil the potential of decentralized governance and new types of loyalty programs,” Drubay said.

For this season’s fellowship, 20 institutions were selected, while 10 major museums participated in the accelerator. Each accelerator participant was paired with one of seven participating tech companies to help them conceive and execute their project.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, for example, worked with digital agency Broken Egg, which helps brands and companies leverage Web3. Together, they developed an immersive experience for an upcoming experimental space at the museum that will guide visitors through the woodworking processes of various contemporary artists in the museum’s permanent collection.

Kim Lý, an interactive media producer at the museum, said in a statement that the museum hopes projects like the one developed through WAC Lab will increase the museum’s exhibiting capacity by 50 percent.

“For us, this interactive project is an exciting, pivotal moment for our institution’s long-term digital strategy,” she said.

Nimi, a Web3 tech startup that works with cultural institutions to create digital artwork collectibles, collaborated with three institutions in using Web3 to cultivate a more engaged younger cohort of patrons. Nimi CEO and founder Anh Nguyen told ARTnews the company’s strategy with WAC Lab participants was to “leverage token-based engagement strategies to bring gamification and loyalty and reward models to empower younger audiences to have more ownership and agency in the future of arts.”

For example, Nimi worked with the Goethe-Institut Lisbon in Portugal to develop a system where people earn membership tokens, and accrue various benefits, through attendance. For 221A, an arts and culture space in Vancouver, B.C., that includes a library and artist housing, they helped develop a token-based library card.

A mockup of’s new landing page.

Nimi also worked with Germany’s Museum Ulm, on, an online digital platform for collaborative curation of exhibition projects. launched in 2020, with funding from the German Federal Cultural Foundation; Nimi helped develop the platform’s engagement model and create a system for nudging stakeholders “to take actions, contribute, and develop ownership.” Museum Ulm’s ultimate hope for the accelerator was to transform into a DAO, or decentralized autonomous organization, in which participants have a say in the decision-making and direction of the platform’s projects. Typically, DAOs are funded by issuing governance tokens, which holders then use to vote;’s system will grant tokens to stakeholders who engage with the platform.

“For example, a token can be earned for publishing an open call, joining the discussion by commenting, attending an event, or writing about on social media,” Museum Ulm digital curator Marina Nething told ARTnews. “A certain number of tokens will grant the holder access to exclusive options and perks. Technology leads the way of our museum into the future.”

Such strategies are sorely needed at cultural institutions, Nguyen said, as the average member age reaches into the 60s or 70s, while millennials and Gen Z remain unengaged.

“Despite steady visitor numbers, younger audiences are less engaged,” Nguyen said of museums today. “Fewer become members and support museums in the short, medium, and long-term.”

A report by the International Council of Museums assessing the impact of Covid on cultural institutions found that the pandemic has changed “museums’ perception of the digital world forever.”

“Although the resulting economic crisis will obviously be a major obstacle in terms of the economic and human resources that museums will be able to invest, more and more institutions are now aware of the fundamental importance of digitization,” the report reads.

WAC’s Drubay similarly described museums as currently undergoing an “identity crisis” in a post-pandemic world. The crisis has pushed museums to be “fearless,” she said in “taking big, bold steps” toward Web3 in contrast to their slow, tentative engagement with social media and Web 2.0.

At the close of WAC Lab’s demo day, Drubay said, “whether through their creativity or audacity, the projects developed for this season show just how far cultural institutions are willing to think outside the box when it comes to Web3.”