Art UK has created a digital gallery of 200,000 works in public collectionsby Emma Crichton-Miller / March 28, 2016 / Leave a comment
Last month at the Houses of Parliament civil servants, curators, journalists and art lovers gathered to celebrate a major landmark. The Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) was relaunched as Art UK. For the last five years, the PCF has partnered with the BBC to create the Your Paintings website, the digital portal which gives access to the UK’s national collection of 200,000 oil paintings.
Much more than a simple name change, this relaunch was akin to Cinderella donning her party dress and going to the ball. The entirely worthy, not for profit, enterprise of cataloguing and digitising all the oil paintings in public ownership, whether in art galleries, council offices, obscure museums, schools or hospitals, has been transformed into the radical act of giving these art works back to the public. In the magnificent surroundings of Speaker’s House, where Augustus Pugin’s decorative detail testifies to Victorian pride in the public realm, this once shy charitable endeavour was revealed as a ground-breaking cultural initiative, in tune with visionaries of both past and present.
Until 2011 the PCF had beavered away quietly at its exhaustive task,…