Vatican Library Adopts Blockchain to Preserve Manuscripts and Engage Donors

Vatican Library Adopts Blockchain to Preserve Manuscripts and Engage Donors

The Vatican Library has partnered with NTT DATA Italia to implement blockchain technology in preserving its extensive manuscript collection. Announced on June 17, the “Vatican Library Web3 Support Project” seeks to enhance the library’s online presence and engage its supporters through cutting-edge technology.

Project Overview

The Vatican Library, which houses around 180,000 manuscripts and over 1.5 million printed books, will use non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to connect with donors and social media users. Initially limited to Italian residents, this experimental project follows a trial phase launched in Japan in February 2023.

Participants who shared the NFT project on social media by July 16 received a “Silver NFT,” granting them access to a special collection of high-resolution images of 15 manuscripts. Financial supporters of the project receive a “Gold NFT,” providing access to high-resolution images of all 21 manuscripts in the collection. So far, 419 users have received these Polygon-based NFTs, demonstrating blockchain’s potential in preserving cultural heritage. These NFTs are soulbound, meaning they are non-transferable and permanently linked to the recipient’s digital wallet.

Historical Context and Future Applications

The Vatican Library, established in the 14th century and a key repository of historical texts since the 300s, aims to use this web3 initiative to make ancient documents more accessible to the public. In 2020, the library launched a new website with improved search functions and easier access to digital reproductions of manuscripts, inventories, and archival materials. This initiative is part of a broader campaign to preserve cultural heritage, with future plans potentially including immersive extended reality (XR) experiences like augmented or virtual reality.

Collaboration and Investment

NTT DATA Italia has been collaborating with the Vatican Library since 2014 through its digital archive service AMLAD, which preserves over 2 million assets. The company has invested billions in web3 infrastructure and plans to launch a crypto wallet later this year, reinforcing its commitment to the digital future.

This partnership between the Vatican Library and NTT DATA Italia highlights the innovative use of blockchain technology in cultural preservation and community engagement.

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