How a Museum Uses NFTs to Bring Religious Art to Life

Wednesday, November 24, 2021 4:28 PM

Crypto AM writer Jillian Godsil meets Dr. Edmundo Martinho, President of Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa…

Dr. Martinho comes from a social science background but spent the first 15 years of his career working in the private sector, rising to the position of CEO of an international pharmaceutical company.

Then, in 1996, Portugal launched a guaranteed minimum income scheme (today known as social insertion income) and the Minister of Labor and Social Security, Ferro Rodrigues, approached him, and even challenged him to join the team.

It was a major career move, but Dr. Martinho embraced it enthusiastically. He also felt that the skills acquired in the private sector would be very useful to him.

“I understood the importance of planning which can sometimes be overlooked in large public organizations,” he says.

“The second skill set is attention to detail and being very focused on results.”

The implementation of the program was a major initiative of the Portuguese government, addressing both the need for a minimum subsistence income and the needs of society through social activation.

Beyond the scope of the ambition underlying this policy, because it was so new, the support services needed additional experience to implement it.

“We needed to make sure people could access their new rights. It was a new national anti-poverty strategy, with a particular focus on child poverty,” explained Dr Martinho.

“But our fight was to support families, not just with money, but to support them in their personal and family development. This is still a problem today. »

Holistic policy

The policy is intended to be comprehensive and to ensure the well-being of the family and of the child within the family.

“From housing to health issues to education – we need to understand that each person is a universe and that the universe is made up of different layers,” he adds.

While Dr Martinho acknowledges that this approach may differ from other European policies, he also agrees that it is not the approach but the ability to put it into practice that is important.

“Part of the difficulty in implementation is the different layers of authorities responsible for implementing different elements – from local authorities to national authorities – and making sure everyone is moving in the right direction.”

Dr Martinho speaking at the recent Web Summit

Dr. Martinho remained in the public sector, working in related social services and holding presidential titles in related commissions, until 2016 when he joined Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa, or SCML, an organization in nonprofit overseen by the Ministry of Social Affairs and funded. by revenue from lottery games in Portugal.

Since 1498, SCML has pursued its original mission – to improve the quality of life of citizens, managing all social policies related to children, young people, adults, families and the elderly, with particular emphasis on population groups in difficulty (disability, dependency needs, poverty). Best known for its social action, Santa Casa is also very active in the fields of health, education, research, culture and social entrepreneurship, as well as in the development of its considerable real estate heritage, many of which have been bequeathed by benefactors.

It is also responsible for the operation of state lottery games, thanks to an exclusive concession from the Portuguese State for the entire territory of Portugal. Proceeds from lottery games are donated to good causes across the country.

“SCML is a very important organization in Portugal in many ways,” he explains.

“He manages the social game of the state which generates resources which are used to execute different social programs, to support the public purse and to provide resources to other ministries.

“In Lisbon, SMCL is the main support organization for people in need, be it material, food, health, housing or refugee needs. It is up to us to support the city of Lisbon.

SCML also has enormous historical and cultural significance in Portuguese life, with over 500 years worth of priceless works of art, relics and objects of sacred significance.

The beautiful objects and works of art are available at the SCML museum but also in the Church of Saint Roch (Sao Roque), reputed to be one of the most beautiful churches in Lisbon. The saint for whom it is named is also believed to be a protector from the plague.

Pope Paul III receives Saint Francis Xavier

In fact, next year, SCML will open a new museum called the Asia House to display the rich collection of Asian art and relics collected over the years. The opening will be a landmark year for the city of Lisbon and Portugal.

“Our main objective is to preserve these assets – and to enrich the collection,” explains Dr Martinho.

Part of the enrichment is reaching out to contemporary artists, including graffiti artists and refugees.

“We mix cultural and social significance – we seek to support Portuguese artists, people with mental health issues, people with disabilities and refugees. These are our main drivers at the moment.

Although Saint Roch is a protector against plagues, SCML has been doubly impacted by COVID.

Introducing non-fungible tokens

“This first time, we were hit with our resources during the pandemic period as people reduced their game drastically. At the same time, we saw increased pressure in requests for support from citizens,” he said. Explain.

“We have had to increase our services to include food support, to provide isolation care accommodation for people with COVID and a huge increase in home care services.”

There are over 5,000 staff all dedicated to making better services available and driving the SCML forward as a progressive and forward-looking organization, even as it carries its history. Part of this was the adoption of the most modern developments – non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

“When I first heard about NFTs, I thought it could be a very interesting opportunity. On the one hand, we could show our strengths and make them available to anyone who wants to discover richness of our museum and the church.

“And on the other hand, we have seen the possibilities of increasing SCML’s revenue thanks to the new platform that we are launching.”

While Dr. Martinho understands that the SCML is one of the first museums to adopt this technology, he also believes that many others will follow, which is the future of museums if they wish to remain relevant.

“We have already received approaches from other museums asking our opinion on how they could do something similar. This is a learning experience, and being one of the first ways does not guarantee us initial success. , but it’s a unique opportunity to stay relevant, show off our treasures, and seek to generate new revenue.

Dr. Martinho knows that for a museum to stay alive and relevant, it cannot stand still.

“We have to move forward if we want to survive.”