An online collection now boasts half of all the publicly owned oil paintings in the United Kingdom.
The goal is to put online all of the estimated 200,000 publicly owned paintings housed in some 3,000 institutions, making it a veritable Google Books of UK art. There are plenty of UK artists, as well as many other works from around the world and from all periods. While all are owned by the public, many are in buildings that aren’t generally open to the public, so this website helps make them available.
Right now the website is focusing on putting up all the oil paintings since that was the preferred medium of painters for several centuries, and a medium that British painters used quite well. Other media such as watercolor and tempera are represented, and more such paintings will probably go up in the future.
Users can tag paintings to help with the ongoing organization of the collection. There are also links to BBC’s online sound and video archives and various guided tours by different people in the art world.
The website also hosts regular online exhibitions. Currently there’s one on the arctic.
Detail from John Constable’s “The Hay Wain” courtesy Wikimedia Commons.