Art UK

Art UK (previously the Public Catalogue Foundation)

History of Art has been working with the Public Catalogue Foundation (now Art UK) for many years, firstly advising the PCF and the BBC on the Your Paintings project and the associated BBC website, and then on the design, implementation and management of the pioneering public engagement projects Your Paintings Tagger and, most recently, Art Detective. The work in Glasgow was done by Andrew Greg, Director of the National Inventory Research Project in the School of Culture and Creative Arts, and Dr Jo Meacock, now with Glasgow Museums.


Art Uk’s website now includes images and basic details of over 200,000 oil paintings in public ownership in the UK and is adding works on paper and sculpture in the coming years.

Tagger (now under redesign) used principles developed by the astrophysics community for their Galaxy Zoo project to involve thousands of volunteers in tagging images of paintings with descriptive content keywords. These will greatly enhance the searchability and usefulness of the Art UK website. 


Over 10,500 taggers were registered and created over 5.5 million tags. Over 23,000 paintings have been completely tagged according to the project’s criteria and these tags are being delivered to the BBC. An enormous amount of raw tagging data has been created. This could in itself be of immense value to researchers into digital humanities, psychology, semantics, aesthetics, art education, etc.


Art Detective, launched in May 2014, is a public engagement project intended to improve the quality of information held by UK collections about paintings in their ownership. It comprises a set of public discussions in which curators can source information and advice from academics, experts and the members of the public worldwide, and anyone with new information can contribute it via the Art UK website. Over 100 reattributions and identifications have already been made (January 2018). Art Detective won Museums and Web’s prestigious ‘Best of the Web’ award in 2015.


For more information contact: Andrew Greg, Director, National Inventory Research Project.