Art UK Sculpture – all systems go!

Art UK is delighted to announce that we have started our major new project to catalogue the UK’s national sculpture collection. This ambitious initiative will see an estimated 170,000 sculptures from inside public collections and outdoors in the nation’s streets and squares being shown on the website by 2020. No other country has attempted such a comprehensive digitisation of its national sculpture collection.

The UK’s national sculpture collection is drawn from all over the world – a truly global collection and arguably the greatest in existence. However, a significant proportion is not on display and little of it is photographed. Many public monuments are not fully recorded and are at risk.

Nymph and Greyhound_Wyatt_Temple Newsam_Leeds_Detail

Above: Nymph Removing a Thorn from a Greyhound’s Foot, 1848, Richard James Wyatt (1795-1850), marble, Temple Newsam, Leeds. Taken during photography testing in 2013.

This three-year project will focus on sculpture of the last thousand years. All objects will be recorded and most will be photographed, some in 3D.

Volunteer photography training_25Aug15

Above: Testing photography and recording methodologies for outdoor public sculpture as part of the Development Phase, Bath, August 2015.

A variety of exciting learning, engagement, training and volunteering programmes will be taking place across the UK. Masterpieces in Schools will see 125 great sculptures being taken into primary and secondary schools for the day. We will also be organising 75 Sculpture Around You activities, which will see us take sculpture into shopping centres or help people develop new skills. Sixty films about sculpture and sculptors will be made with and by young people, linked to the National Curriculum.

Making a sculpture film_Grizedale Forest_19Oct15

Above: Culture Street making a sculpture film during the project development phase.

Seven partners will work alongside Art UK to deliver the project: the BBC, the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association, Culture Street, Factum Foundation, the Royal British Society of Sculptors, the Royal Photographic Society and VocalEyes.

As part of the project Art UK will be opening a small office in Glasgow to bring it closer to collections and audiences in Scotland.


Above: Horse and Rider, 1993, Eoghan Bridge, Rutland Court, Edinburgh.

Funding for the project is being provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, the Scottish Government and a range of large and small grant-giving trusts, and over 70 individual and corporate donors. A full list of project funders can be found here.

The next few months will see us concentrate on recruiting and training the first project staff and volunteers. We expect to start the digitisation process in the autumn of 2017 and see the first sculptures on Art UK around the beginning of next year.


Above: All Hands, 2001, Brian Fell, Custom House Street, Cardiff.

Having been developing the plans for Art UK for four years, we want to say a huge thank you to all the people and organisations that have supported this ambitious project and helped us get to this point. We are very excited to get started!

Katey Goodwin, Art UK Deputy Director, Head of Digitisation and Public Engagement

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Head of Research and Digitisation, the Public Catalogue Foundation. Project Manager for the Your Sculpture project.

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