What’s better than taking in art, illustration and documents of historical import in a museum or library? Getting out your crayons or colored pencils and drawing all over it, of course. And you can do just that all week long thanks to an international group of museums, libraries and other institutions participating in an initiative called #ColorOurCollections.
No, it’s not an invitation to vandalism—rather, participating organizations have rounded images from their collections that make great coloring pages. From illustrations to maps to everything in between, the eminently color-worthy pictures are just begging to be filled in. And thanks to the magic of the internet, they’re just a click and a printer away.
The concept was first launched by the New York Academy of Medicine Library last year, and since then more than 60 institutions have decided to participate in the weeklong festivities. They range from art museums to public libraries, botanical gardens to universities. All of the participating institutions are sharing images suitable for coloring using the simple hashtag on a variety of social media. Alongside the obvious potential for fun, the week also serves up some knowledge. Participants are encouraged to share information about the images they’ve posted, creating an educational opportunity alongside the artistic one.
So far, #ColorOurCollections 2017 is off to a brilliant start. Here are a few highlights:
The Biodversity Heritage Library
The Biodiversity Heritage Library, a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that boasts millions of pages of literature about plants and animals, not only created a full coloring book, but also made a whole Flickr collection of its black-and-white images that anyone can access.
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library's coloring book is an appetizer into its vast, vast collection. So take a page from its book, literally, and draw on everything from a centuries-old astronomical charts to anatomical drawings.
The Smithsonian Libraries are in on the act, too, with a coloring book devoted to Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's new exhibition Color in a New Light. Running until March, the exhibit explores the ways color connects to daily life, and the topic is the perfect canvas for inspiring an at-home masterpiece.
Folger Shakespeare Library
These are only a few of the treasures of Color Our Collections thus far—the rest of the week is sure to yield even more coloring sheets just begging for your artistic skill to make them your own.