Frances Liddell

The Crypto-Museum: Investigating the impact of blockchain and NFTs on digital ownership, authority, and authenticity in museums


  • Dr Kostas Arvanitis
  • Dr Guyda Armstrong
  • Ian Lindsay, National Museums Liverpool

Overview of PhD

I am working on a collaborative project with the National Museums Liverpool to explore how we can implement blockchain technology to cultivate collective ownership and enchainment between the museum and its audiences. Blockchain is often only considered as a digital money infrastructure. This research seeks to demonstrate how the technology can be used beyond this monetary approach and highlight how blockchain can be used to form social value for the museum through collective ownership.

Taking a shared authority approach, the project therefore asks whether and how blockchain-enabled objects (also known as cryptocollectibles or non-fungible tokens (NFTs)) can be used as a way to highlight the different narratives of a museum object and help to build a stronger sense of community between the museum and the different stakeholders of an object.

The key themes of my research include ownership and psychological ownership, shared and open authority, and authenticity.


On completing my BA (Hons) in History of Art & Visual Studies here at the University of Manchester, I continued my studies with the MA in Arts Management, Policy and Practice. My dissertation explored the concerns and opportunities of an OpenGLAM policy for the arts sector, for which my PhD is a development from this idea. My interests are in internet culture, digital heritage and blockchain technology.


  • Liddell (2021) 'Building Shared Guardianship through Blockchain Technology and Digital Museum Objects. Museum & Society Special Issue: Digital (and) Materiality in Museums , 19(2), pp. 220–236. doi:10.29311/mas.v19i2.3495.
  • Ho, Vollmer, Pini, Liddell & Diprose (2021) EVA Conference Research Workshop Proceedings Research Workshop Collected Paper: Explorations in concepts and the visual arts’. doi:10.14236/ewic/EVA2021.46.

Online Articles


  • 'Blockchain and Digital ‘Thingness’: Exploring the Opportunities and Risks for Museums', EVA Research Workshop, 5th – 7th July 2021
  • 'Crypto-Connecting Audiences: Could NFTs change how we consider ownership and connection in museums?' Centre of Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage, University of Leeds, 23rd June 2021
  • 'Permeance & Provenance: Exploring blockchain’s challenge to authenticity in the digital museum space', Digital Humanities Seminar Series, University of Manchester, 21st October 2020
  • 'Tokens of Connection: Exploring How Cryptocollectibles Can Be Made Meaningful', Exploring Blockchain in the Cultural Sector Conference (Virtual), 16th October 2020.  
  • 'Could Blockchain Change the Nature of Ownership in the Museum?', Museum and the Web (MW20) Conference 2020 (Virtual), 31st March – 4th April 2020
  • 'Blockchain and the Museum: Turning Digital Fragmentation into Social Value', DCDC 19 Conference, 13th-14th November 2019, Birmingham UK 

Invited Panel Sessions

  • ‘NFT – Hype or Hope?’ Afrovalley Blockchain, Digital Assets & Cryptocurrency 12th May 2021
  • ‘NFT in the Cultural and Creative Sectors’ DeFi Summit, 14th – 18th June 2021
  • ‘NFTs and Museums’ CADAF Conference, 17th – 23rd June 2021
  • ‘What Can NFTs do for Museums?’ MuseumNext Digital Summit, 30th June 2021
  • ‘NFT Panel’ EVA Conference 5th – 7th July 2021
  • ‘Why you need to know about NFTs’ Museum Association Conference, 8th – 10th November 2021
  • ‘Non-Fungible Wat Now!? Everything you don’t know about NFT Art’ ARCS Conference 8th – 19th November

Other Projects

Collaboration Labs Knowledge Exchange Project: ‘Developing Digital Engagement with the British Library. A project that aimed to identify the barriers to digital engagement and opportunities to widen access to the British Library’s digital collections with a specific focus on Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria & Uganda. 



Twitter: @FrancesLiddell