Miniature Sculpture Art Gallery in KL using NFTs

While NFTs have been around for a few years now, their usefulness only increased significantly in 2021. This may be due to the growing acceptance that tangible things in this world are moving into a more digital reality, or the metaverse. envisioned, largely catalyzed. by COVID-19.

NFTs in Malaysia are most often related to the arts industry, but they can be used for a lot more, as we wrote earlier. They also have utility functions, and MinNature Malaysia (MinNature) attempts to reduce barriers to entry in their use by allowing visitors to purchase Entrance Tickets (NFTs) through cryptocurrencies.

This team’s digital shift came into effect after going through 18 months of confinement, where the only spectators of MinNature’s sculptures were the four walls of its gallery.

Big dreams stopped by confinements

MinNature is an art exhibition featuring around 34,000 miniature replicas of various sculptures in Malaysia covering its gallery space of 1,207 square meters.

Anecdotes: Its Dataran Merdeka centerpiece cost around RM80,000 to build.

Some of their mini sculptures from KL / Image credit: MinNature Malaysia

It opened at the USJ Summit in 2016 where the exhibit was geared towards the child and family market.

On March 3, 2020, MinNature moved to JUMPA at Sungei Wang Plaza, the heart of KL’s Golden Triangle, and reinvented itself to become a beacon of Malaysian culture and heritage. There, they hoped to target more tourists and adults.

Visitors admiring the small details / Image credit: MinNature Malaysia

Speaking to Vulcan Post, Wan Cheng Huat, Founder and Curator of MinNature Malaysia said, “After spending massive amounts of money on marketing, promotion, KOL and billboards for our grand opening, our team was looking forward to it all. new start for MinNature. . “

“But we didn’t know what to expect.” Within 2 weeks of reopening, the MCO went into effect and the tourism industry shut down.

In search of an end in sight

What many hoped was just weeks in lockdown turned into months, and morale continued to dip. The team realized that their dreams of reopening MinNature might not come true as cash reserves hit zero, with no end in sight for lockdowns.

The two team members on the left are the directors of the company / Image credit: MinNature Malaysia

“At one point during the closures, I had to contact my mother and siblings to help me cover my monthly financial commitments and even put my house up for sale,” Cheng Huat explained in our interview. But because he couldn’t find a buyer, his house was not sold.

“Personally, as a founder, I was so devastated. No words can accurately describe this feeling. I was already on the verge of giving up.

Knowing that they couldn’t control the government’s plans, the team decided to refocus their energy to be part of a 3D printing initiative to help frontliners. Participation was able to relieve them of some unwanted thoughts about their situation at the time.

Several hubs have also been attempted to generate income for the business, from hosting paid virtual rides to selling personalized miniature products online and offering model making services. The team also tried to sell vegetables and durians to earn money.

Cheng Huat recalled that these initiatives were not easy to plan and execute, especially after the team that went from 8 to 60 members was reduced to 2 during MCO 2.0.

“The saddest part of the MCO was that we had to fire our entire team in October 2020. We have used up all the reserves that we initially allocated before the MCO,” he said.

Migrate to go digital

One of the ways the MinNature team remained active throughout the MCO despite its closed exhibition doors was by venturing into the Metaverse. One free session they hosted was the MinNature 360 ​​Experience, where viewers could explore the gallery and its miniature wonders.

This was the team’s way of getting user feedback on accepting their metaverse project. “We wanted to know how viewers felt when they explored a 360 view of MinNature, what their expectations were and if it was a viable option to venture there,” explained Cheng Huat.

“From this survey, it led us to explore and develop the metaverse to complement our existing offerings. ”

Preserving the design of heritage buildings / Image credit: MinNature Malaysia

But their metaverse plans aren’t just a jump on the bandwagon. Even before the 2020 lockdowns, Cheng Huat said they already see the potential to incorporate metaverse-related technologies like AR into their products to make them more appealing.

In fact, MinNature was already conducting immersive projection mapping on their miniatures to develop their own AR app, but development was halted due to OLS.

“We are now working on plans to raise funds and restart development, focusing on exploring the implementation of Metaverse and NFT MinNature. This is where people can come and explore MinNature digitally and even buy our collections of miniatures in NFT form, ”said Cheng Huat.

TVN as a new source of income

As part of the above adoption, the gallery has started accepting cryptocurrencies through its ticket sales. Because there are no “fixed prices” when it comes to crypto and NFTs, visitors will pay the crypto value equivalent to the Ringgit value of the note, and payments are made with XRP or USDT.

To drive adoption and usage rates of this payment method, the team is also running promotions for those who pay by crypto.

Imagine owning an NFT of one of the buildings / Image credit: MinNature Malaysia

Additionally, MinNature launched its first NFT series called “MinNature Official-Mini in the Glass Wall Collection” on Opensea. “We believe that with a balance between a digital and physical gallery, it will allow us to reach untapped markets and to develop ourselves”, hoped Cheng Huat.

The whole idea of ​​using the metaverse and NFTs as currencies is that people can essentially “own” digital assets. MinNature’s sculptures of tiny buildings, roads and infrastructure present, in my opinion, a physical and tangible way to understand the concept of metaverse.

“The possibility of owning a room or the whole building or miniature sculpture will be realized thanks to our NFTs. This unique physical pairing use case for our NFTs is under development. “

Cheng Huat setting up the small stage / Image credit: MinNature Malaysia

MinNature has also successfully hosted paid live virtual walks which it intends to maintain as an ongoing program in the coming months. This will expand its reach to all kinds of visitors, maybe even those from overseas who cannot visit it in person.

So even though the next MCO takes place, we see it more as an opportunity to implement our new ideas. For MinNature, we have already passed the worst of OLS and we are moving forward even if another lockdown is imminent.

Wan Cheng Huat, Founder and Curator of MinNature Malaysia

  • Learn more about MinNature Malaysia here.
  • Read what we wrote about NFTs and how they are growing in Malaysia here.

Featured Image Credit: Chee Wing, member of the MinNature Malaysia team

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