Russia to Create a Cultural Heritage Blockchain Register

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In Brief
  • Cultural experts in Russia are using blockchain to protect and catalog works of art.

  • This includes a general register of works for different cultural institutions to safeguard their accessible projects.

  • The coronavirus has made remote art experiences more important than ever.

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Experts believe that distributed ledger technology (DLT) could help save the combined knowledge of the world’s cultural institutions. And Russia has plans to be the first to take advantage of it.

In Russia, Blockchain Mines You

In December 2018, a digital initiative planned to use blockchain to catalog the works of art in the Tretyakov Gallery, Russia’s premier art museum.

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When the creators wanted to bring down geographical barriers that kept young people from art, they could never have predicted the pandemic. But since the coronavirus disrupted life across the planet, initiatives like this have exploded in Russia.

Young people admire a photo in Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery | Source; The Art Newspaper

Some academics are rescuing empty museums. Dr. Kiril Rybak, a culturologist, has said in an interview that blockchain could solve the biggest problem facing cultural heritage: collecting and sorting information about works of art. But he offered a solution.

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In an interview with Rossiyaskaya Gazeta, Rybak said that Russia is actively discussing the development of a digital distributed register of documents and works of art. The project will connect each piece with expert information, values, provenance, rights of ownership, and more.

He explained that the 2020 pandemic had sped up the development of digital museum exhibits and online concerts and shows.

Blockchain Time

Despite the apparent destruction from the virus, some find a silver lining in the attention it has brought blockchain. Julie Monaco, the Head of the Public Sector at Citigroup, believes that the coronavirus pandemic forced banks to examine their approach to the digital economy.

But the interest in blockchain in Russia goes beyond art and finance. September elections used blockchain technology with the help of Waves Enterprises to run reliable remote voting.  The Sverdlovsk Oblast region of Russia created a 5 million ruble ($65,000) contract for a full system of blockchain elections.

Likewise, the federal government in Russia has shown interest in blockchain. In the Russian Duma, the head of the finance committee, Anatoly Aksakov, announced he believes that most of the country’s economy will soon end up on the blockchain.

“We are getting to the point where many financial transfers are going to happen on the blockchain,” he said.

Despite some hostility towards blockchain finance, at the end of September 2020, the Russian vice prime minister suggested decentralized finance technology would become a priority for the government. It plans to create a venture capital framework to spur development in the crypto field.

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Harry Leeds is a writer, editor, and journalist who spent much time in the former USSR covering food, cryptocurrencies, and healthcare. He also translates poetry and edits the literary magazine mumbermag.me.

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