NFT Curation Primer

NFT Curation Primer

Written by
Leonie Engel
Date published
September 30, 2022

1/ March '21 will forever be remembered as the month that NFTs went mainstream when @beeple's 'Everydays' was sold for >$69M.

But to gain long-term cultural relevance, we need to enrich them with more context and relational value.We need to give people the power to curate 👇🏼


2/ While minting NFTs has become quite easy by now, the places to collect and display them are still far from being fun for artists, collectors, and institutions.Users of today's platforms are drowning in an #opensea of GIFs and jpegs.

This is why we need curation.

3/ Curation per se is a pretty broad term.It means filtering, synthesizing, framing, enabling, creating, and remembering.

As the curator @HUObrist said in a talk at @designindaba:"Curation is a continuously articulated struggle between the past, the present, and the future."


4/ We've been recently experiencing an expanded notion of curating.

We curate databases with @curate_dao.

We curate content with @LensProtocol and @yup_io.

We curate our digital identity with @discoxyz.

But still, the history of curation is largely the history of exhibitions.


5/ There's been an evolution of the curator from a kind of craftsman to a creative genius, a producer of meaning in service of art history who endows his exhibition as a work of art.

Thus, the inception of a new art ecosystem demands new tools and platforms for curators.

6/ Since the emergence of digital art, there have been various curatorial experiments playing with NFTs and crypto art in before unseen ways.

7/ Already since the beginning of this millennium, institutions like @rhizome, the @SerpentineUK Art Technologies program, and @NetzkunstBerlin have put enormous efforts into exhibiting, explaining, and preserving born-digital art.

8/ In 2018, artist @dennnnnnnnny co-organized the group show 'Proof of Work' at #SchinkelPavillon in Berlin.

In dialogue with @keikreutler@harmvddorpel & others he adopted a fully transparent curatorial protocol to decentralize the selection of artworks for the exhibition.


9/ Even earlier, @leftgallery, also involved in 'PoW', had built a digital-only gallery for "downloadable" art.

Other galleries like @GalleryUpstream@nageldraxler (image below), @PaceGallery, or #BrightMoments innovated the IRL experience of NFT art in various dimensions.


10/ Established auction houses have also worked on original curatorial concepts:

During #NFT.NYC, @ChristiesInc teamed up with @1of1_works for a charity auction of NFTs donated by artists including @beeple and @SamSpratt.

This week, they announced their own NFT sales platform.

11/ These were all crucial steps but there is still a long way to go to transcend the centralized, hierarchical, and gated art world we know from the past.

Luckily, there are several crypto-native projects aiming to realize this vision.

12/ Let's begin with tools for collectors like you and me:

As much as I enjoy my NFTs, opening my wallet definitely doesn't feel like entering a prestige art collection.

Collectors need tools to showcase their pieces in a more customized, appealing environment.

13/ NFT visualizers enable the display of NFT collections in more immersive and interactive spaces than simple wallets.

Collectors and artists can buy & build virtual spaces for exhibitions and interactive social experiences. Some tools even allow for to design of own avatars.

14/ @GALLERY: view, curate, and share NFTs in a profile-like environment.

@oncyber: create customized immersive spaces and experience them with others. @Gagosian’s Murakami show is here.

@cryptovoxels: build virtual galleries & avatars. @artblocks_io has its own space here.

15/ @FeralFile is focusing on the development of a sustainable and fair art ecosystem by commissioning curated exhibitions.

They use BitmarkInc NFTs to create new equitable rights and ownership models for artists, as well as defining clear investment rights for collectors.

16/ While these projects vary in social interaction, immersion, and the blockchains they support, there’s one thing they all have in common:

They put ownership and financialization on the center stage. Curation either requires ownership or willingness to sell.

17/ @______jpg______ facilitates signaling and engaging with NFTs beyond these factors:Everyone can create an exhibition, regardless of what they own.

Flexible layouts empower users to bring attention and value to NFTs through context, experiences, and complementary meanings.

18/ This is shaping an open gallery ecosystem:

Collectors can combine owned & unowned pieces to add context and meaning.

Curators can show knowledge and taste to establish a record of their work.

Creators can make repositories of their work to simplify indexing & discovery.

19/ Storing exhibition data on @ArweaveTeam, JPG's building a registry-based protocol for NFT art.Once more exhibitions are indexed, this will become a powerful discovery engine. On-chain provenance will also help to foster long-term cultural value and curatorial reputation.

20/ The great news: @______jpg______ just opened their tool to the public this week and announced their next key feature:

JPG Canons... I don't know about you but I AM EXCITED 💫

21/ We talked a lot about galleries and collections.

What about museums, you might wonder?Throughout art history, these centralized authorities have been a locus point of trust. That is crucial for the art ecosystem regarding the credibility and long-term value of artworks.

22/ However, museums have also been hyper-curated, very intransparent, and inaccessible institutions. This is why projects like @MuseumofCrypto, and @arkive plan to disrupt the way we think about museums as public goods.

23/ @MuseumofCrypto's vision is to build the world's largest decentralized art collection, governed by its community with $MOCA tokens. @arkive envisions a community-curated, physical museum. Their most recent acquisition was 'Hormonium', a custom-generative code by @errafael.


24/ Similar to the old-school art world, where private collections sometimes have even more impressive inventories than public museums, collector DAOs will also shape the development of an NFT art canon.

Despite being decentralized, most of them are fairly exclusive communities.

25/ @PleasrDAO, a collective of DeFi leaders, collectors, and digital artists, became well-known for tokenizing the original Doge meme and purchasing Edward Snowden’s “Stay Free” artwork.


26/ @FingerprintsDAO follows a strict curatorial thesis focusing on smart contract-based artworks showcasing innovative use of the blockchain for artistic expression.

The DAO was initially formed to collect 'Autoglyphs' by @larvalabs, the first “on-chain” generative art project.


27/ @FLAMINGODAO explores multiple kinds of blockchain-based assets, ranging from art to collectibles, in-game assets, and also tangible assets.

The total number of members is capped at 100 but Flamingo also collaborates with external curators to spot trends and artists.

28/ Why does all that matter? Isn't the hype about NFTs already over?

With NFT sales going down within a rather low-vibe crypto market environment, should we even care about NFT curation?

We definitely should - it's urgent! (iykyk)

29/ NFTs are not dead - they're only dead as we know them.

We are only at the beginning of an increasingly #phygital future for NFT art.

Building bridges between the physical and the digital will create unimagined opportunities to experience NFT art.

30/ As @temp_projects argues, artworks like Beeple's phygital sculpture 'Human One' by Beeple, and projects like @joinzien introduce a new dimension for experiencing art.And an expansion of art means an expansion of curation.

31/ Closing with the words of @kukulabanze, founder of @Dialectic_CH and collector of 'Human One':“Although this seems like an absolutely unimaginable outcome [...], I believe that NFTs will eventually flip the entire crypto market.”

32/ If you want to dive deeper into NFT art, make sure to visit @outland_art and @RtClick_Save, both wonderful online magazines for critical conversations and reviews.I've put together a list of my favorite Twitter resources:

33/ Also, make sure to check out the @chapterone library for more content from Chapter One Labs 🧪Thanks, @cairoeth@_eshabora, and @yb_effect for proofreading & edits :)