Arkive: The Headless Museum

by: Gaby Goldberg
Arkive: The Headless Museum

Image via Arkive

“Everything you can imagine is real.” –Pablo Picasso

Museums, arguably, are one of the most exclusive asset classes ever created. Curated collections have outpaced the overall art market, which has, in turn, outpaced the S&P 500 (2000-2020). In times of rising inflation, museums have performed well, with collectors often looking to purchase art as a hedge. And when it comes to wealth management, 73% of managers confirmed their clients wanted to include art and other collectible assets in their portfolios (2016).

And yet museums are run entirely backward, consolidating power, controlling access, and failing to take advantage of (or distribute) the economic value they create. What does this look like in practice? A 2017 report shows nearly 90% of museum board members are White, and 75% are 50+ years old. As of this year, less than 0.1% of the global population has been to the Smithsonian (and far fewer to the Met) — and even if everyone showed up, 95% of museum items sit in storage at any given time. Most people will never see the most valuable objects in history. Owning them is out of the question.

People want to curate, own, and preserve culture, but culturally significant items are locked into private collections and controlled by established institutions. Perhaps one of the most poignant examples within web3 is when ConsstitutionDAO aimed to buy a copy of the U.S. Constitution, but was outbid at the eleventh hour by Ken Griffin, head of Citadel.

Enter Arkive, the world’s first decentralized physical museum. What if the Smithsonian was not just curated but owned by the Internet? Founded by serial entrepreneur Tom McLeod, Arkive aims to curate a “museum-worthy” collection, from Picassos to Pateks, all physically owned and showcased globally. Each item is wrapped in a smart contract, and museum membership & curation is governed by NFTs. Arkive’s first collection is focusing on the theme When Technology Was a Game Changer, working to create conversations around technological items that have shaped the way we view the world.

We believe that Arkive is launching at an inflection point between two of the most high-growth forces: crypto and alternative assets. AUM in global alternatives is expected to nearly double over the next five years, from $13 trillion in 2021 to ~$23 trillion by 2027. Arkive’s genesis members have already made two acquisitions (including the ENIAC patent), and they’re just getting started. You can learn more here if you’re interested in applying for membership.

We are thrilled to be on board for the Arkive journey alongside our close friends at Offline Ventures. We’re honored to work more closely with (and learn from) Tom and the entire Arkive team, as well as friends around the table at NFX, Freestyle Capital, Not Boring Capital, and others. Want to get involved? Arkive is hiring! More from Tom here.