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Public Catalogue Foundation

Joan Miró, Harlequins Carnival (detail) 1924–5. Source: Tate Modern.

Martin Bailey, All of UK’s publicly owned art to go online, The Art Newspaper, 25 February 2016

Sculptures and works on paper to be added to database of oil paintings

A project that has recorded and photographed more than 200,000 paintings in the UK is to widen its scope in a unique project that will produce a public database of millions of works of art. The Public Catalogue Foundation, now renamed Art UK, will eventually include on its website (artuk.org) images and details of 100,000 sculptures and millions of works on paper in public collections.

Cataloguing the UK’s oil paintings took ten years, at a cost of £6m. It has resulted in 87 volumes of printed catalogues and a fully-searchable web resource. Of the 213,000 paintings, two thirds are in museums and the rest belong to institutions such as local authorities, universities and hospitals. Ninety per cent of the paintings, owned by 3,000 bodies, had never been photographed and 80% are not on display.

Public sculptures, whether in museums or on display in buildings or outdoors, are to be covered in a further project for Art UK. The Heritage Lottery Fund has initially allocated £2.8m towards the £5m cost, and a final decision on the grant is expected early next year. Photographing and cataloguing the sculptures will then take four years.

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