Museum partners with NFT-club to save 2 million images from Dr. Ernest C. Withers

The Withers Art Project is a fundraising project benefitting the Withers Art Gallery in Memphis, TN. 

The Withers Collection, a museum and art gallery dedicated to the work of Civil Rights photographer Dr. Ernest C. Withers, is collaborating with NFT-membership club 1687 on a unique digital art project to help preserve and digitize nearly 2 million historically significant images from the Civil Rights period in the United States.

Dr. Withers is known as a preeminent photographer of the American Civil Rights movement, documenting life in Memphis, TN during the 1950s and 1960s. Withers chronicled the Emmet Till trial in 1955, and the I Am A Man sanitation workers’ strike in 1968 that led to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Withers rode along with Dr. King on one of the first integrated bus rides in Montgomery, AL, and was there in the funeral home where MLK lay to rest. Withers documented Civil Rights leaders, sports figures, and famous musicians, but he also used his camera to capture the lives, struggles, and victories of the everyday men, women, and children living in Memphis, TN, during the Civil Rights movement.

When Withers died in 2007, he left behind nearly 2 million images. The Withers Collection Museum and Gallery in Memphis, TN, houses Memphis and American history. Patrons can view Withers’ collections of Civil Rights, Music, Sports, Lifestyle, and Political images, including notable figures ranging from MLK to Issac Hayes, Elvis, Presidents Kennedy and Clinton, Jackie Robinson, and many more. Preserving, digitizing, and cataloging this collection takes a tremendous amount of resources, and time is of the essence. Withers’ original prints and films are delicate and at risk; passing time increases the chances of these iconic images being lost forever.

To help the preservation of Withers’ work, the Withers Collection is collaborating with 1687, an NFT-membership club, to create a unique digital art project inspired by Withers’ work: The Withers Art Project. Each art piece begins with one of Withers’ photographs and combines hand-painted elements with computer technology to produce a collection of generative digital art pieces known as NFTs. The sale of the NFTs from The Withers Art Project benefits the Withers Collection Museum to further the monumental task of preserving Withers’ work for generations to come. The Withers Art Project is a limited generative art project and only a certain amount of digital art pieces will be produced.

1687 is an NFT-based membership club leveraging Web3 to produce and support projects supporting social good. The 1687 Club is majority-owned and founded by minority women who wanted to use their influence and the future of the internet to support projects related to equality, diversity, and inclusion. The club is a token-based membership-only club.