Untitled (A crowd outside a print-shop) | J. Elwood | © Trustees of the British Museum | Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Join in

Who we are | How we work | Digitising watercolours | Join in | Contact us | From our founder


The Watercolour World is a global, collaborative effort. If you think you can contribute in any way then we want to hear from you. Find out more about how you can take part below.


Submit a watercolour

The Watercolour World is constantly expanding and each new image added to the website helps to create a fuller visual record of the world before photography.

If you own an original watercolour painting or paintings that you think would belong in the Watercolour World, we would love to hear from you. Please visit the Submit an image page and read the instructions carefully before getting in touch.



Volunteer with us

The Watercolour World would not exist without volunteers. They help us to scan, catalogue and upload thousands of images to the website each year. As the project grows, we need volunteers to help in the following areas: 

Tagging and locating: Before we publish an image, we add tags and try to find the location that it depicts. This is done mostly by volunteers. If you love looking at paintings, have an eye for detail and enjoy a bit of detective work then you’ll love this process. You can also put forward the most interesting images you find to be highlighted on our website and social media.

Collections research: There are millions of watercolours in the world. We want to find as many of them as possible. We need volunteers to help track down watercolours of note in public (and private) collections so that we can continue to grow. If you’re a museum and library buff then this could be a great task for you.

Digitisation: We help some collectors and museums to scan and catalogue their images. Volunteers help to create these catalogue records from scratch, and occasionally accompany the digitisation team on collection visits. If you like the sound of creating a piece of history (and have a knack for deciphering tricky handwriting!) then this is the perfect volunteer task for you. 

How to volunteer 

The Watercolour World is for everyone and we want this to be reflected in our volunteers. We welcome people of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life. You don’t need to be knowledgeable about art, and you don’t need to be very tech savvy: we can show you all you need to get started. We are looking for curious minds who want to expand their horizons and contribute to global knowledge in the process.

We have in place a system of remote volunteering so volunteers can be based in any part of the world. If you would like to be considered, please send a CV and cover letter to [email protected] with the words ‘Volunteering enquiry’ in the title. 

We will review all applications that we receive. If we don’t have any volunteering opportunities available, we’ll keep your details on file until we do, or for up to one year. We will typically invite potential volunteers for a short interview before making any further arrangements. 

As we are a small team with limited resources, we cannot offer everyone who applies a volunteering position.

If you want to get involved but don’t think volunteering is for you, why not share your knowledge with us and our website users?  


Share your knowledge

There are many stories behind the watercolours on our website, and we need help to tell them.  


Can you identify the subject of a portrait painting?

Do you have experience in a historic craft or trade?

Are you a plant enthusiast with information about a rare species on our website?

Have you spotted an image of somewhere that you know and love? 


If you know more about the history of the watercolours on our website, please get in touch via email [email protected]

Into the unknown

Not all images are easy to locate. Can you help? If you spot somewhere you recognise, tell us in the comments