Cultural education charity Art UK has announced a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies that it hopes will improve digital access to the UK’s national collection of art while encouraging broader engagement with museums and art galleries.
The Art UK online platform shows more than 270,000 artworks by 50,000 artists. There are works from 3,300 institutions represented on the platform, which is free to access for the public and attracts more than 3.3 million annual users. The platform also helps museums generate income through the Art UK Shop, where people can buy prints, books and other collections-related material.
The Bloomberg Philanthropies partnership will help Art UK to upload digitised artworks at a faster rate and support the creation of more content for schools and the public.
“This is quite a milestone for us,” said Art UK director Andrew Ellis. “It will support our mission to create better access to the national collection of art but it is also the partnership element that is really important. We both share this fervent interest in how digital is able to expand culture to a broader audience.”
Ellis said that an Art UK guide will be launched on the Bloomberg Connects app in June. The app offers guides to a range of museums, galleries and cultural spaces.
Art UK’s Partner Collections will be invited to join the app and will benefit from free technical infrastructure and support. Art collections including the Frick Collection, the Guggenheim Museum and the Serpentine Galleries already feature on the app.
Art UK would not reveal the value of the multi-year partnership but said it makes Bloomberg Philanthropies one of its leading supporters. Arts Council England is among Art UK’s existing backers.
Bloomberg Philanthropies, which was created by US businessman, politician and philanthropist Mike Bloomberg, has a range of partnerships around the world that are designed to increase public engagement with the arts.
Art UK was founded by former diplomat Fred Hohler in 2002 as the Public Catalogue Foundation. Its original objective was to make a photographic record of the nation’s entire collection of publicly owned oil paintings.
This year will see the completion of the digitisation of the nation’s sculpture collection, funded principally by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.