Back to Calendar

Mine, Yours, Theirs, Ours? Ownership and Stewardship in the Age of Blockchain

Side-by-side headshots of a man and woman both wearing black shirts and smiling at the camera.
Amy Whitaker (Photo: © Sheiva Rezvani) and Kevin McCoy (photo courtesy of the artist).


Harvard Art Museums, Menschel Hall
32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA

This event does not require a reservation; see further details below.

The Harvard Art Museums and the Art & Antiquities Blockchain Consortium are pleased to present a conversation with artist and professor Kevin McCoy and writer, economist, and professor Amy Whitaker about ownership and stewardship of cultural property in the 21st century. They will explore how blockchain technologies can assist in more inclusive and equitable models in the art market. Ruth Streeter, a 2021 Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard and former producer of 60 Minutes, will moderate this discussion.

A significant shift is occurring in the world of arts and culture. Daily headlines capture the growing number of claims brought by countries of origin to repatriate their heritage. The emergence of social justice movements, cultural changes in ethical norms, and a new ethos of collecting cultural artifacts has caused a reevaluation of traditional practices. At the same time, the art world has been divided—even as it is being reshaped—by NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Some artists and their advocates have demanded better distribution of profits in the art market. As calls for action accelerate, the art world and global communities are struggling to navigate a fairer way forward and to address the urgent need to create new models of ownership for art and cultural properties. Blockchain technology—with its ability to provide immutable provenance and the automated division of ownership rights—offers a new opportunity to achieve positive solutions, promising a transformative, inclusive tool for change.

This conversation will consider the current status of art ownership and if and how blockchain technology could be useful in crafting a new, more equitable model of ownership.

Kevin McCoy, Artist and Associate Professor of Art and Art Education, New York University
Amy Whitaker, Associate Professor of Visual Arts Administration, New York University
Ruth Streeter, 2021 Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow, Television Producer

Free admission, but seating is limited. Advance reservations are encouraged and will open on Monday, April 10, after 10am. Walk-in visitors are always welcome, if space allows. Please note that a standby line will be available for those without reservations.

The lecture will take place in Menschel Hall, Lower Level. Doors will open at 5:30pm at the 480 Broadway entrance.

Limited complimentary parking is available in the Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street, Cambridge.

This event is part of ArtsThursdays, a university-wide initiative supported by Harvard University Committee on the Arts (HUCA).

The Harvard Art Museums are committed to accessibility for all visitors. For anyone requiring accessibility accommodations for our programs, please contact us at at least 48 hours in advance.

Arts Thursdays logo