Connecting University Art Collections

The Digital Curation Lab is carrying out an assessment of University Art Collections in the UK. The aims of the project are:

  1. To bring together university art collections to share common concerns around acquisition, preservation, and accessibility of art within a Higher Education Institution environment.
  2. To assess the perceived potential benefits of bringing together a formal network of university art collections


In the first instance, the Digital Curation Lab (DCL) will conduct a survey of university art collections across the UK. This will involve the development of a multi-level information assessment exercise with university art collections, towards populating an open database (through Wikidata) with the purpose of:

  1. Identifying university art collections in the UK;
  2. Assessing the level of activity: e.g.: do they still collect, if so to what level;
  3. Providing an overview of the holdings within each collection;
  4. Determining the level of accessibility to documents, archives, and art stores associated with each collection.

The findings from this information assessment exercise will be useful towards the establishment of a formal network of university arts collections, which will be the next step in the process after this initial phase.

If your institution has an art collection (broadly defined), feel free to fill in the assessment exercise available through this link.

Outcomes & Activities

  1. Focus group involving participants representing the Salford University Art Collection, University of the Arts London, and the Reading University Art Collections.
  2. Map of UK art collections based on Wikidata information contributed by participating universities.
  3. Workshop with participating university art collections to identify next steps and plan the establishment of a formal network.
  4. Report based on the findings from the information assessment exercise. This will lead to the collaborative writing of a position paper at the workshop, making the case for the establishment of a formal network for university art collection.

Project Team

Dr. Toni Sant – Digital Curation Lab Director

Dr. Lamia Sassine – Research Assistant

Enrique Tabone – Data Scientist

Online workshop

An online workshop aimed at establishing a network of University Art Collections in the UK took place on 6 April 2022, enabling stakeholders to participate fully in plans proposed by the Digital Curation Lab.

VIDEO: Introduction and Project Presentation

VIDEO: Funding Options for the Project

VIDEO: Feedback session with Workshop Participants

Programme outline for the event can be seen here.

Relevant links:

Art Collecting at UK Universities:
List of Collections from Initial Assessment Exercise + Timeline

University Art Collections in the UK (assessment respondents only): 

Location Map + Relational Graph

Connecting University Art Collections through Wikidata

Video demonstration by Enrique Tabone showing work-in-progress on Wikidata:

Etherpad links