Art UK, formerly known as the Public Catalogue Foundation, is a website that has catalogued the many thousands of artworks owned by public institutions such as museums, universities and councils, many of which are not on public display.
The tie up with Bloomberg Philanthropies is planned to “strengthen and improve” digital access to the UK’s national collection of art while encouraging broader engagement with local museums, art galleries and schools.
Bloomberg Philanthropies, the foundation set up by US businessman Michael Bloomberg, will become a major supporter of the cultural education charity alongside existing supporters Arts Council England and other donors and trusts.
The funding will allow Art UK to continue its projects and embark on initiatives.
Art UK has digitised and made publicly available online art by 50,000 artists and more than 3.3m annual users are involved.
This year it plans to complete the digitisation of the nation’s sculpture collection, funded principally by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Art UK’s focus now is to “accelerate the volume and pace of uploading already digitised artworks such as works on paper and photography”.
Other initiatives funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies include the launch of an Art UK guide on the Bloomberg Connects app in June 2021; to increase learning resources for schools; tell the stories behind the art – often of lesser-known artists and subjects; and help generate income for collections.
For instance, museums and collections working with Art UK have access to the Art UK Shop, enabling them to generate income without making any capital investment or taking any risk.
The Art UK guide will help museums and collections benefit from free technical infrastructure and support.
Mary Beard, 2021 patron of Art UK, said: “Art UK is already bringing collections to very wide audiences. This support will enable them to go even wider and do even better.”
Andrew Ellis, Art UK’s director, said: “Bloomberg Philanthropies is a major and generous supporter of the arts globally. But it is their belief that digital technologies can widen and enrich cultural participation that particularly resonates with Art UK.”