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Art UK is a cultural, education charity in the United Kingdom, previously known as the Public Catalogue Foundation. Since 2003, it has digitised more than 220,000 paintings by more than 40,000 artists and is now expanding the digital collection to include UK public sculpture.
|Purpose||To create a complete digital record of the UK's collection of oil, tempera and acrylic paintings and sculpture and to make art accessible to the public.|
It was founded for the project, completed between 2003 and 2012, of obtaining sufficient rights to enable the public to see images of all the approximately 210,000 oil paintings in public ownership in the United Kingdom. Originally the paintings were made accessible through a series of affordable book catalogues, mostly by county. Later the same images and information were placed on a website in partnership with the BBC, originally called Your Paintings, hosted as part of the BBC website. The renaming in 2016 coincided with the transfer of the website to a stand-alone site. Works by some 40,000 painters held in more than 3,000 collections are now on the website.
The catalogues and website allow readers to see an illustration, normally in colour, and short description of every painting in the UK's national collections. This information has significant educational benefits and constitutes the building blocks for later art historical research.
Revenue from catalogue sales made by collections is dedicated to the conservation and restoration of oil paintings in their care. Coverage includes national and local museums and council collections, paintings in universities, bishops' palaces of the Church of England, hospitals, the properties owned by the National Trust, and some other private institutions such as the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge universities. The collections of bodies such as Arts Council England, English Heritage and the Government Art Collection are included. However, the Royal Collection is not included.
Art UK receives major funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other sources.
In November 2016, Apollo magazine awarded Art UK the prize of "Digital Innovation of the Year". Artist Yinka Shonibare is Art UK's 2019 patron and has praised the charity's efforts, "public sculpture is the most democratic way to share art [...] it transcends race, class, or economic status".