UK’s art collection goes live

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More than 200,000 oils paintings owned by the nation but inaccessible go live today on a new website, Art UK (

The Public Catalogue Foundation, launched 1in 2003 to bring to light the works of art kept in storage  or in inaccessible places through printed catalogues, has been renamed Art UK and give universal online access to more than 200,000 oil paintings from over 3,200 public collections in Britain. The content is also being curated by the BBC, a partner in the scheme, on

From this summer watercolours, drawings, prints and works in other media already digitised  will be added from 500 partner collections, and next year Art UK will begin cataloguing sculpture in the national collection, some of it in 3D.

“This is an important new stage in out founding principles of making our public collections  accessible for enjoyment, leaning and research” said Andrew Ellis, CEO of Art UK.Our ambition ow is to add many more works of art, jun a variety of media, to the Art UK platform and inspire audiences to engage with them and, where possible, vista then for real.”

The artist Bob and Roberta Smith, also known as Patrick and an Art UK trustee, who presented his own work of art to the the collection, said: “Through our public collections we all own art”.

The Public Catalogue Foundation was created by Fred Hohler, a former diplomat, when  he realised how much of the public holdings of oil paintings was not on public display and set about raising funds to publish books of pictures in regional volumes. The task was completed in 2012, with 210,000 pictures recorded.

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