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The Museum of Fine Arts is marking its first experiment in digital assets with an NFT sale this summer.
The Boston museum has announced a partnership with to create an NFT collection featuring some of the MFA’s rarely exhibited pastel works. Proceeds from the sale will be used to conserve artwork at the museum.
The first sale will take place on July 14 and the second will be in October. 
“It’s a way we believe we can share our collection with a new audience who may not heretofore have been in the museum or a patron of arts, so to speak,” said Eric Woods, the museum’s chief operating officer. “People who get engaged with art via NFTs have transitioned also to engaging in the actual physical objects.”
Woods said the museum has exhibited some of its collections digitally on its website before, but this marks the MFA’s first NFT drop. He said the pandemic spurred the museum to think about how it could engage with people outside of its walls through new technologies. The museum is looking at how it can expand its digital interactive strategy, Woods said, which could include experiments with virtual reality and augmented reality, in addition to NFTs.
Artwork in the drop will include works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Odilon Redon, Jean-François Millet, Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt. Woods said these pastel works were chosen because they are rarely seen by the public.
“These works cannot be unveiled very often,” Woods said. “Pastel as a medium is so fragile that they are very, very, very sensitive to light and very, very, very sensitive to movement.”
The process for creating these NFTs was noninvasive. Woods said the museum keeps a digital imagery catalog of most collections and was able to use that for this project.
The museum is still finalizing details about the NFT collection, Woods said, but the drops will likely include around 2,000 NFTs with the least expensive editions for sale at about 250 to 300 euros. The NFTs will be available for purchase worldwide.
There will be 24 works represented in the drop, but some will be available in as few as two editions and some will have upwards of 100 editions for sale.
The NFTs will also come with different benefits attached, like access to MFA membership programming, exhibition previews and curator events.
The MFA said the proceeds from these NFT sales will be used to conserve two paintings by French impressionist Edgar Degas: Edmondo and Therese Morbilli and Degas’ Father Listening to Lorenzo Pagans Playing the Guitar.
“They were chosen because one of them has not been conserved since the ‘50s,” Woods said.
During this process, Woods said paintings would be cleaned and revarnished. 
“As part of this conservation project, we actually get to study the works as well,” Woods said. “We look closely at the works and study techniques and sort of what goes on as well. It really helps us better understand the artwork and the artists.”
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