Nara plans to open photography museum on The Sandbox, Decentraland

Local authorities in the Japanese city of Nara have announced plans to open a museum of photography in the metaverse. The move is said to be the first of its kind in Japan.

Nara City Hall announced on June 29 that it had launched a study at the Taikichi Irie Memorial Museum of Photography in Nara City, aimed at digitalising over 150,000 works from Irie’s photo collection.

The objective was to open the NFT Nara City Museum of Photography (provisional name) in the metaverse this autumn. Two platforms including The Sandbox, a popular virtual world platform run by Hong Kong blockchain company Animoca Brands, and the VR platform Decentraland, would be involved. 

The NFT conversion would also add proof of rights on the museum’s digital assets, according to the city hall’s announcement.

The Taikichi Irie Memorial Nara City Museum of Photography is the only museum in Japan’s Kansai region specialising in photography. It shows the works of Taikichi Irie, a photographer from Nara City who recorded the cultural traditions of Japan and the original landscape of Nara from preservation and research perspectives. 

The museum also holds exhibitions of works by other photographers representing Japan’s photographic culture, as well as those by winners of the Taikichi Irie Memorial Photography Award.

The museum is considering allowing children and students who are unable to visit the physical museum due to COVID-19 to view artworks at the metaverse museum online, and to have their photographs converted to NFT and put on display there.

The project comes as a growing number of photo exhibitions or sales are held on the metaverse.

The NFT photo exhibition “Tokyo in 2020” by photographer Yuya Muto, who documented his days spent in Tokyo during the COVID pandemic last summer, is being held at the gallery on the metaverse until August 8. 

In January, the US Associated Press launched the NFT Market, selling NFT versions of some of the news photos it has taken. In May, US digital photo sales giant Getty Images announced a partnership with NFT sales company Candy Digital to jointly develop NFT products for Getty-owned photos.