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Libraries as Institutions Preserving the Cultural Heritage
The management of cultural heritage information is seen as the main role of Libraries these days. More widely, they are responsible for preservation of the cultural heritage as well as its promotion within the society via social engagement and increasing the public awareness. Since Art is a part of the cultural heritage, Libraries (in addition to Museums and Galleries) tend to collect it and look after it. Some of them create dedicated gallery-like spaces to display their Art Collections while others integrate it into their general public spaces as a part of interior decoration and a means to increase the exposure of visitors to widely understood culture.
Libraries and Art Collections
Multiple Libraries own valuable Art Collections in addition to their catalogued resources (archives, books, journals, articles, videos etc.). Some of them are displayed around the Library site, some are hidden in the storage rooms and available (or not) only during temporary exhibitions or through online or traditional catalogues. Several Libraries’ Art Collections, such as the collection of visual arts created by The British Library are vast and of an extremely high historical value. They consist of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures and historical furniture. The Wellcome Collection can be seen as another example.
Management and Visibility of Art Collections gathered by Libraries
According to the ‘Fine Art Collection Management in Urban Public Libraries’ study published in The University of Chicago Press Journal indicates that Public Libraries in the US do not employ the industry best practices for handling museum-quality objects. The similar situation is present in other countries. Even though certain Libraries do try to organise in-house exhibitions and occasional projects of digitalisation of their artworks and their publication online, these actions are still insufficient. As a result, the visibility of Art Collections owned by Libraries around the globe is still dramatically low.
Uart.com for Libraries and their Art Collections
Uart.com is a great place for Libraries to publish their Art Collections online and reach a much wider audience of Art Lovers. Joining Uart means joining the global Art Sharing movement which goes in line with the core mission conducted by Libraries: preserving and popularising Culture and its treasures. Moreover, the Global Map of Art available on Uart is a handy tool to help localise libraries geographically and increase the number of visitors as well as the general visibility of the institution. Uart.com can also be seen as a useful tool in the process of networking and searching for potential partners to conduct international librarian projects or exhibitions as well as databases sharing.