As those of us who haunt museums are keenly aware, but the general public is probably not, most of the world’s artworks are not on view.
Some, of course, are in private collections, visible to the public only if on loan to museums or in publications. A great percentage, however, is in museum storage. Another significant percentage actually is on view, but not in a way to encourage access by the general public; many publicly owned works hang in government buildings, schools and offices.
In one nation, at least, there is an attempt to bring much of this work to light.
A new initiative by the BBC and the Public Catalogue Foundation aims to make most of the publicly owned work in the UK visible online; seeking to digitize an estimated 200,000 works and make them available on a newly launched website called Your Paintings.
The site launched with an impressive 62,000 paintings already digitized and ready to search. The collection is not limited to British artists, simply art that is in British public collections.
There is a general search on the home page labeled “Find a Painting”. In the top navigation are tabs for Paintings, Artists and Galleries and Collections, within which you can browse.
The Artists page gives an initial selection of popular artists, perhaps giving you the mistaken impression that these are then only ones available, but use the alphabetical selection at the top to narrow the selection by artist’s surname, and the numbered links below the thumbnails to browse further.
The reproductions offered on the site (at least currently) are not high resolution, as one might hope, but they are large enough to enjoy; and the detail page for each work lists the institution that houses the work for further follow-up. (Particularly fruitful in this regard are works housed in the National Gallery, which often has nicely high-resolution images that can be zoomed full screen.)
There are plenty of other features to the site, with background information, efforts to ask the public to help tag the content of the paintings for searches, guided tours by various individuals, and more.
I’ll issue my customary major time-sink warning.
(Images above: Sir John Everett Millais, John Constable, Gustav Courbet, Titian, Rembrandt, Alfred Sisley, Alfred J. Munnings, Peter Paul Rubens, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Sir Albert Joseph Moore)
[Via Art Daily]