For art’s sake…

​This October, Your Paintings: Masterpieces in Schools gave thousands of UK school children the opportunity to experience great art close-up when a selection of masterpieces by world-famous artists, worth an estimated £14 million, visited their schools for the day, in a project led by contemporary British artists Bob and Roberta Smith and John Byrne.

This initiative by the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF), supported by BBC Learning, took famous paintings by the likes of Gainsborough, LS Lowry, Monet, Spencer and Turner into 27 primary and secondary schools across the nation in a programme that seeks to introduce young students to the nation’s rich and varied painting collection.

The project is part of Your Paintings, an ongoing initiative to increase access to the UK’s national art collection, which can be explored at bbc.co.uk/yourpaintings.

Launched in June, 2011, the site currently shows over 200,000 oil paintings from 3,200 collection venues across the UK. Around 80% of the nation’s paintings are not on view and the vast majority had not been photographed before the Public Catalogue Foundation started work in 2003. This project has already dramatically improved access to the nation’s publicly owned art.

bbc.co.uk/yourpaintings features curriculum-based slideshows full of ideas for using paintings in the classroom. Designed to inspire schools to use great art in teaching and learning, they are complemented by profiles of different careers in the art world. The website already includes many resources for teachers to use, including a guide to artistic styles and movements; biographies of some of the world’s greatest artists; and over 200,000 artworks with details of where to see them for real.

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