Introducing the Numnum Institute

A passion project I've been working on is ready to launch and I wanted to introduce it to you.

In this issue:

A project that I’ve been working hard on for the last few months is finally coming to fruition and is ready to share with you all. Thanks in advance for reading! Back to our regularly scheduled programming again tomorrow. 😃

I love NFTs and I want you to, too

A hallmark of the start of a new artistic era is a breakthrough artistic technology followed by a chorus of voices arguing that it isn’t real art. It took time between the invention of the camera and the acknowledgement that photography was an art form. It was the invention of paint in tubes that let painters take their work out of the studio to discover impressionism. Digital artists today still struggle with the perception that their work is somehow "less real" than art made with physical material.

The history of art is a history of new artistic technology being invented, then rejected, then ultimately taken for granted as having always been art. That same pattern is repeating itself now with non-fungible art, art that takes advantage of cryptography to explore secrecy, uniqueness, ownership and market value. Chaos and commercialism can obscure the fact that NFTs are indeed a transformative new art form.

Our hope with The Numnum Institute is to bring the same transformative potential of NFTs into the act of curating and the role of a museum. Traditional museums are basically one-way - you go into a room with art, look at the art, then leave. So far attempts at building museums or collections dedicated to NFT art are basically skeuomorphic attempts to create the same experience in a metaverse somewhere - a lot like how early webpages were essentially just digital magazines.

The Numnum Institute will be collecting non-fungible art, but the goal is not simply to acquire a pile of jpegs and call it a day. Instead we plan to use the collection to experiment with ownership and scarcity in new ways, giving our members and the general public unique and individual ways to experience the art.

As an example, the NNI acquired Bored Ape #2853 and have been building a collection of derivatives that will be offered to members as NFTs:

The museum will own the original,1 members will own a unique 1 of 1 derivative and the general public will have access to a generic version for free+gas.

Future generative and derivative works are planned - the museum has already received its first artist donation (6 hours after Twitter launch!). The museum will seek out and promote rising artists who are expanding the borders of non-fungible art and it will invest in new ways to make non-fungible art interesting and accessible to audiences not already enfranchised in crypto.

Here is our collection so far (we are announcing a new piece each day):

Membership in the Institute

A truly crypto-native museum should be as much a work of art as the collection itself. Membership in the museum will be released as a collection of NFTs representing the natural numbers. Our initial fundraising round will offer numnums 2-9999 in a hybrid English/Dutch auction.2 We chose this model for minting for three reasons:

  1. It avoids gas wars, where people overpay transaction fees in a frantic race to get their transactions confirmed first.

  2. It lets everyone choose their favorite number to represent their membership.

  3. It lets the market figure out what different numbers are worth.

Will people prioritize large primes? Birth years? Jersey numbers? Is there a secret club of ultra-billionaires obsessed with the number 7223? We don’t know. The auction approach lets each person decide what a number means to them and makes sure each number goes to the person who valued it the most highly. We don’t want numnums to feel interchangeable - we want yours to be meaningful to you.

What will Membership cost?

The price of ETH has a tendency to swing wildly on short notice, so we are holding off on announcing specific pricing until we are very close to launch.

Is a numnum a good investment?

Absolutely not. I’ve been on the record many times that I think NFTs are entertainment objects, not investments. I don’t think you should buy an NFT for investing purposes and I definitely don’t think you should buy this NFT for investing purposes. Part of the goal of the launch design is price discovery (goal #3). If we’ve done a good job of that, there won’t be much opportunity to flip them for a profit. Buy one if you want it, don’t buy one if you’re hoping to sell it.

Should I become a member in the NNI?

That’s a complicated question! Good reasons to become a member are any combination of:

  1. You think NFT art is interesting and want to encourage it.

  2. You think owning digital art customized to your favorite number is cool.

  3. You’d like to be a founding sponsor of a museum.

If any of that appeals to you, you should consider joining us!

How can I learn more?

The website at has a bit more detail and the Twitter account at @thenumnums is announcing new art every day and will be the place to announce final details on the launch - so be sure to follow along there! We could also use your help signal boosting our small project to the community. Thank you!


Our bylaws will prohibit selling. 💎👐


There will be a separate auction for each number. It will start as an ordinary English auction where anyone interested can place higher bids and the number is awarded to the highest bidder. Then any numbers that didn’t have any bids above the reserve price will switch to a Dutch auction where the reserve price slowly falls until someone is willing to buy at that price.