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View all the UK’s oil paintings on the Your Paintings website

  • Date: 18 December 2012
  • Area: National
Oil on panel

The Last of England, Ford Madox Brown. Credit: Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery Collection

The Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) and the BBC have completed their hugely ambitious partnership project to put the UK's entire collection of publicly owned oil paintings online. We are the first country in the world to give such access to its national collection of paintings.

In total, 3,217 venues across the UK have participated in the project and 211,861 paintings are now on the Your Paintings website, which was originally launched in 2011.

Sourcing the collections

The project covers paintings held by museums and galleries as well as works in universities, local councils, hospitals and even paintings held in fire stations, zoos and a lighthouse. The PCF began making a photographic record of the UK's oil paintings in 2003. Typically 80 per cent of these paintings are not physically on display and the vast majority had never previously been photographed.

You can help catalogue the paintings

To help the PCF and BBC identify and catalogue what can be seen in each painting, the public is being invited to 'tag' the paintings. Tagging - adding keywords to help describe the artworks - is fun, easy and you don't need to be an art expert to do it. The results will allow future users of the website to find paintings of subjects that interest them. Visit the Your Paintings website to find out more, or follow @your_paintings.

You can also hear the PCF talk about the digitising and tagging of the collection in our Digital R&D podcast on data and archives.