with bite-sized prose, conVERSEverse seeds moments to read about what the poetry community here has done, what we’re doing now, and how we’re thinking about the future of poetry on + off chain.

Mad Arts Space

May 8, 2024

poem = acquired

A museum acquisition of artwork is a BIG deal. In web3, we’ve celebrated moments such as Cozomo de Medici’s donation to the LACMA and the Centre Pompidou’s acquisition of several NFTs. Museum acquisitions are a signal to the wider world that says: “These cultural artifacts matter.” As digital artist Connie Bakshi eloquently put it on one of our recent X Spaces, “a museum acquisition is a commitment to steward both the materiality and immateriality of art.” The institution takes the responsibility of preservation and contextualizing the work for generations to come so that work becomes part of a moment in art history. 


There are signs that museums have an appetite to acquire more digital artworks and even launch their own web3-driven projects. We’ve seen organizations like We Are Museums and LAL Art working directly with institutions to educate them on web3 through their WAC Museums and Factory programmes. More museum acquisitions are likely on the horizon, and if they are to represent a comprehensive canon it is critical that these collections include poetry.  


Poetry has always been a form of art: we’ve inscribed verses on objects from swords to jewelry, incorporated poetry in our decor, and presented poetry for display since the dawn of language. However, when we walk into most art museums, poetry is less frequently exhibited and rarely ever acquired. This is why we’re thrilled that Mad Arts has acquired 22 works from theVERSEverse, making it the largest digital poetry acquisition by a museum to date. This is a “MAD” moment not just for poetry on the blockchain, but poetry everywhere. As digital art pioneer Anne Spalter shared, “I’ve been in the art world for a long time and I never hear about museums acquiring poetry. I think this is the beginning of something important in the art historical canon.”



The rise of new technologies including blockchain allows poets to share and sell their poetry through new distribution mechanisms. Poets are no longer restricted to the paper page or  ephemeral readings. They can collaborate with visual artists to create engaging multimedia experiences of our poetry.  In “Consejo a la hija que nunca tendré, Para Rafaela”, Caridad Moro-Gronlier, Poet Laureate of Miami-Dade County, collaborated with LA new media artist Ellie Pritts to give new, hallucinatory dimension to a poem about motherhood imagined. When asked about the what the acquisition meant to her, Moro-Gronlier said, “I never imagined that this sort of cross-curricular, interdisciplinary world existed, nor did I ever think I’d see my work displayed on a wall in an art gallery, but now that I’ve discovered what’s possible in theVERSEverse, there’s no going back! Being a part of such cutting-edge poetry projects and integrative approaches to the creation, proliferation, and promotion of the creative arts inspires me to continue to collaborate with other artists in ways I never thought possible.


Museum acquisitions reinforce the importance of poetry as public works of art. It makes the work more accessible to a wider audience, striking resonance in ways beyond what the artist originally imagined. As Kenyan artist May Naibo shared on our recent X Space about creating the visuals for Poetry Ambassador to Miami-Dade County Nicole Tallman’s poem “I Saw You”, “My hope is that we are not the end of the story. We want the audience to participate in this, to fill in the blanks. There’s no face or body [in the visual], so you can make this [artwork] part of your journey as well.” 


So, what’s next for poetry in museums? We hope other institutions will follow Mad Arts’ lead and include more poetry in their acquisitions as now more than ever, poem = work of art. In the meanwhile, we’re working  with Mad Arts to custom-design the poetry exhibition’s home in South Florida. Stay tuned for more on that front ✨

lorepunk is a poet, copywriter and journalist based in the U.K.

Shannon Chen See // watchensee is a poet + web3 marketer responsible for theVERSEverse’s editorial branch.

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