113 Museums Turned Illustrations From Collections Into Free Coloring Pages

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Have you ever wanted to add your bursts of color to the tea party in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?

113 Museums Turned Illustrations From Collections Into Free Coloring Pages

Have you ever wanted to add your bursts of color to the tea party in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? Or perhaps you’d instead lend your pen to a drawing of a gruesome 18th-century arm amputation. Thanks to this latest edition of the annual #ColorOurCollections campaign, you can scribble your way through both, and also a myriad of other scenes culled from the archives of 113 cultural institutions across the globe.


The initiative, launched in 2016 by the New York Academy of Medicine Library, encourages libraries, universities, museums, medical schools, and botanical gardens to delve into their collections and turn prints, illustrations and drawings into downloadable black-and-white coloring pages. As reported by Artsy, the campaign aims to “promote creativity and to disseminate lesser-known artworks.”


The five-day event in February 2019 found institutions as diverse as the University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the National Library of Russia, and the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design digitizing selections from their collections.


Amongst the more recognizable offerings is a trio of illustrations from the British Library featuring the Wonderland tea party, Aubrey Beardsley’s decadent Art Nouveau rendering of a scene from Oscar Wilde’s Salomé and an Arthur Rackham sketch of Cinderella arriving at the fabled fairytale ball.


Another 2019 highlight was a series of dime novel drawings from Northern Illinois University’s Founder’s Memorial Library. As Jenna Dooley of Northern Public Radio writes, those late 19th-century tales, dubbed “dime novels” for their 10-cent price tag, served as a precursor to modern-day comic books. According to NIU’s Nickels and Dimes digital portal, which allows users to explore more than 6,500 of the digitized novels, the stories introduced the masses to leisure reading, regaling readers with tales of the American frontier, detectives and similarly daring adventurers.


113 Museums Turned Illustrations From Collections Into Free Coloring Pages

Georg Bartisch's illustration of an ophthalmology procedure (Courtesy of the Historical Medical Library)


NIU’s 15-page coloring book deftly captures dime novels’ lively atmosphere: In one illustration, Wild West star Calamity Jane peers out at the audience with a determined look while in another, an enormous winged sea monster roars at three men stranded in a comparatively minuscule boat.


Mythical creatures and more scientifically accurate renderings of flora and fauna as well are favorite subjects throughout the collected coloring pages. The Folger Shakespeare Library, for instance, features otherworldly animals based on characters from Aesop’s Fables, while the institution behind the entire #ColorOurCollections initiative, the New York Academy of Medicine, opts for detailed illustrations of a variety of plants.


The Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia also presented a sketch by Johann Friedrich Meckel, a German anatomist that studied the relationship between genetics and physical abnormalities, and a drawing by Georg Bartisch, the so-called “father of modern ophthalmology,” depicting a man with eerily bulbous medical instruments popping out of his eye sockets.


Reference: Smithsonianman

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Thinking Humanity: 113 Museums Turned Illustrations From Collections Into Free Coloring Pages
113 Museums Turned Illustrations From Collections Into Free Coloring Pages
Have you ever wanted to add your bursts of color to the tea party in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?
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