Arts, crafts…and crypto? At Vienna’s MAK Museum, the three, in fact, aren’t mutually exclusive. The MAK Museum’s association with the captivating new currency began in 2015, when it became the first museum to use bitcoin to acquire a piece of art.
Established in 1863, the Museum has long attracted innovators within their respective fields. After its founding, the first professor of art history at the University of Vienna, Rudolf Eitelberger, joined the ranks to serve as museum director. Eitelberger’s influence within the intellectual and art worlds would go on to shape a movement known as the Vienna School of Art.
As a scholar, Eitelberger emphasized the priority of “the object” in the history of art, and often insisted on the significance of the relationship of “art of the past for the art of the present”. His focus on the visual properties of works of art emerged as a defining characteristic of the Vienna School of Art, and he often lectured exclusively in the museum galleries.
After Eitleberger helped to establish the MAK as a center for artists, craftsmen, and designers, the Museum continued to flourish. The MAK was part of the Vienna World Fair in 1873 where it solidified itself as a place for arts education, research, and acquisition. Over the next century and half, the Museum continued to evolve until 2015 when it made headlines.
That year, the MAK used bitcoin, a largely unheard of cryptocurrency, to purchase artist Harm van den Dorpel’s screensaver titled “Event Listeners” – the first purchase of its kind. Today, the MAK has over 300,000 objects displayed online – the largest online collection of art within Austria. We just want to know what Eitelberger would think of this new era of art…and if he’d buy an NFT of his own.
Written By: Kelly Murray