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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005, 04:33 GMT 05:33 UK
British Council art goes online
Chris Ofili
Chris Ofili is among the artists whose work will be featured
The British Council is making its entire art collection available to view on the internet.

It means all of its 8,000 works can be seen together for the first time.

The UK's worldwide cultural body boasts one of the largest modern British art collections, including works by Chris Ofili, David Hockney and Damien Hirst.

Council visual arts director Andrea Rose said there was an ever-growing demand to see the works - 80% of which are normally on show around the world.

The collection has never been exhibited in its entirety because so many of the pictures are being shown overseas at any one time.

Works from the collection are currently on show in more than a dozen countries across the globe, including Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Venezuela.

The visual arts have been one of the extraordinary success stories of post-war Britain
Andrea Rose
British Council

The collection's permanent home is a secure storage facility in west London.

Many British artists donated or sold work to the collection at cost in recognition of the Council's efforts to promote the nation's contemporary artists overseas.

Henry Moore, for example, gave more than 250 works to the collection in 1984 to mark the Council's 50th anniversary.

Ms Rose said: "The collection has sometimes been likened to a Rolls-Royce due to its innate quality.

"In fact, it is much more like a Land Rover, able to travel wherever it is needed, and equally at home whether in Almaty or Abuja, Beijing or Brussels.

"The visual arts have been one of the extraordinary success stories of post-war Britain, and there is an ever-growing demand from audiences overseas to see it."

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