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PMSA and PCF form pivotal partnership to record the Nation’s Public Sculpture

Date uploaded: February 26, 2014

A Partnership Agreement has been signed between the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA) and the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF). This partnership, formed to collaborate on a project to digitise public sculpture across the UK, has huge significance for the protection of the nation’s sculptural heritage.

The two Charities have agreed to work together to create one comprehensive, searchable, digital database of sculpture in the UK from the eleventh century onwards, which will be freely available to the public online. The project – which will be subject to funding – will be entitled ‘Your Sculpture’. The result will be a substantial improvement in public awareness of the large public collection of sculpture.

Founded in 1991, the PMSA is committed to promoting and protecting historic and contemporary sculpture, monuments and fountains in the public realm. Championing sculpture nationwide, it helped set up the Fourth Plinth Project, administers The Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture, runs Save Our Sculpture (SOS); identifying sculpture at risk and has spearheaded a campaign to stop sculpture theft.

A key PMSA initiative has been the ground breaking National Recording Project (NRP).Set up in 1997, this is a survey of outdoor post-medieval British public sculpture and monuments, undertaken together with many cultural and academic institutions, which has created a unique online database of over 10,000 entries.

In this new partnership the PMSA will use its NRP expertise to take responsibility for outdoor sculpture in the public realm. While the PCF, which has been successful in producing a digitised record of publicly-owned oil paintings under its ‘Your Paintings’ project, will have responsibility for indoor sculpture in public museums and public collections. In the ‘Your Sculpture’ project there will be a heavy emphasis on education and involving schoolchildren and students. The project will also endeavour to attract and engage with new audiences from a wide spectrum of the population.

The project is of major importance because it will catalogue and photograph the nation’s public sculpture, and bring to attention the many works in public collections that are in storage and not ordinarily on view. It will also provide these collections with full photographic records of, and online access to, their sculptural holdings.

Subject to funding being secured, the digitisation process is expected to take about four years to complete. A research project has already been undertaken, financed by a grant from the Henry Moore Foundation, and a steering panel of sculpture experts chaired by Professor David Ekserdjian has given substantial support to the partnership. When the project is completed, everyone will be able to search all sculptural items on the database, view high quality images of each, add personal comments and be directed to other sources of information.

PMSA Chairman, John Lewis OBE, expressed his enthusiasm for the project, saying "This is an important partnership and exciting new venture for the PMSA. We are looking forward to a productive collaboration with the PCF, which will enable us to realise our common goals." The PCF Chairman, Charles Gregson, added "The PCF’s proven track record on the ‘Your Paintings’ project makes it well placed to undertake this new project in partnership with the PMSA."