ARTWORKS hidden in Huntingdonshire’s storerooms have been uncovered as part of a project to archive the UK’s national collection of 210,000 valuable paintings on line.
For many years, publicly-owned works of art of historic figures including Oliver Cromwell and sights such as the Old Draining Mill in St Ives from 1855 have been kept in a variety of unexpected locations.
The Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) worked with the BBC to find the hidden gems in council offices, schools, hospitals and community buildings and put them on the web for all to see – with some surprising results.
At the Norris Museum, in St Ives, for example, there are nine paintings by the artist William Watt Milne depicting picturesque scenes from St Ives and the surrounding area from years gone by, such as a man ploughing with two horses and one of Hemingford Grey watermill.
There is also a view of St Ives from the west, painted by George Bunting in 1888, and another of a “wise old owl”, painted in the 1920s and currently on display in the museum.
Helen Giles, curator at the Norris Museum, said the project had helped show people across the world what the museum had got in its collection.
“From our point view, people can see exactly what we’ve got because the images the PCF has taken are of such good quality compared to what we could have done,” she said.
The PCF sent its own photographers to take high-resolution pictures of the paintings, which the Norris Museum and others did not have the technology to do.
She added: “St Ives has been a bit of a haven for artists over the past couple of centuries because it has been a very attractive place to paint.”