Showcasing the nation's art online during the Covid-19 outbreak

Cycling (diptych, left panel), by Lesley Meaker (b.1970) and David Bennett (b.1948). © ArtCare, Salisbury District Hospital. Photo credit: ArtCare, Salisbury District Hospital, CC BY-NC

At Art UK, we have digitised nearly 250,000 artworks from all over the United Kingdom. These works are distributed across 3,290 venues including museums, universities, historic houses, hospitals and other civic buildings.

There are also a growing number of public sculptures, introduced through our Sculpture Project. In total, these artworks are the creations of 45,000 artists.

The purpose of our website is to make the nation's art accessible to the world, while telling the story of the nation's art, through articles written by curators, art historians and authors from both inside and outside the museum world. 

Supporting collections through content and social media

At this challenging time, we are keen for collections to make the maximum use of Art UK – whether by writing a story about their collection, or a temporarily closed exhibition, or resharing content on social media. Sharing wonderful art with our audiences and the great stories behind this art will hopefully provide some solace and diversion. 

Whilst our focus to date has been digitising the national collection of oil paintings and sculpture, we are encouraging our Partner Collections to add works on paper (prints, drawings, watercolours), which will result in further fascinating story opportunities.

Carnival Scene (possibly Boston, USA), by Alexis Paul Arapoff (1904–1948). Photo credit: The Royal London Hospital Museum & Archives, CC BY-NC

We particularly encourage authors to consider underrepresented groups in the arts, such as writing on women artists, LGBTQ+ and BAME artists and themes.

In the past year, we have covered a range of diverse stories that have been well received by the public, from Lesbian love and coded diaries: the remarkable story of Anne Lister to the Art Matters podcast: the black presence in European painting amongst many others

Launching Curations

In the last year, we have been working towards an exciting new feature to curate artworks digitally, which we are aiming to launch in early May.

Since the alarming outbreak of Covid-19 and the need for social distancing, this digital tool will provide some help to museums and other public art collections, allowing them to maintain their relationships with the public through digital means.

Members of the public will be able to select artworks from across the Art UK website, add commentaries and share their digital exhibitions with friends – presented as albums, showcases and timelines. There will also be mapped trails. Students will be able to use the functionality in their studies. Curators will be able to use it to help to plan physical exhibitions.

Partner Collections will be able to create digital versions of physical exhibitions (and show on Art UK forevermore) as well as new digital-only exhibitions – for example, a 'Director's Choice' introductory selection of favourite works. Users will be able to share their exhibitions online and link to social media, with the possibility to feature some on the Art UK homepage. Exhibitions created by artists, writers and celebrities would be profiled on Art UK to encourage public take-up of the tool.

Shadow Formations, by Rosamund Evennett (b.1973). © the artist. Photo credit: Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust, CC BY-NC-ND

 

Joining the shop

Finally, in this time of financial uncertainty, Art UK's Partner Collections can join the shop at no extra cost to their organisation.

This is shared digital infrastructure for collections to generate commercial income from without risk or capital spend. We then help promote and market prints, merchandise and books through a range of channels.

Please get in touch with Art UK's Head of Commercial Programmes and Collections Partnerships for more information: camilla.stewart@artuk.org

Opt, by Chris Wood (b.1954). © the artist. Photo credit: St George's Hospital, CC BY-NC-ND

 

At this challenging time, we want participating collections to make the most of Art UK, to raise awareness of the art they hold, and the stories behind the art – so that when better times return, more people will head to see the art for real.

If you want to discuss any of this further, please get in touch with Art UK's Head of Content, Andrew Shore: andrew.shore@artuk.org

Andy Ellis, Director of Art UK

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