Over a hundred museums release their collections in the form of coloring books you can download for free

Example of the kind of image you can try your hand at coloring. Image via Smithsonian collection.

In the past few years, adult coloring books have simply exploded. Whether it’s because it’s relaxing, pleasant, or simply an unusual artistic endeavor, there’s no shortage of adult coloring books — from mandalas to mythological creatures, you can try your hand at coloring everything you can imagine.

A group of museums and cultural institutions wanted to make adult coloring even more interesting, and they released some of their collections in black-and-white designs that you can download and color yourself.

Image credits: British Library.

Whether it’s medical oddities, vintage advertising, designs, or anything else they have in their collections, you can now learn as you color with the #ColorOurCollections campaign.

The campaign was first launched in 2018, and now, over 100 participating institutions have joined in. From the lush collections of the Denver Botanic Gardens to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, there’s a lot of coloring diversity at your disposal. Try your hand at the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design or go through the Royal Anthropological Institute’s collection — all for free.

A butter ad featured in the West Virginia and Regional History Center.

The project is meant to spur interest in art as well as museums’ collections. It takes place every year, and the collections are very varied, both in regards to the theme and the artistic style. Even at a quick browse, we came across art collections involving sketches of cities, maps, advertisements, botanical sketches, and biological structures. There seem to be many medical sketches as well, each offering the ability to draw in more or less accurate human bodies.

With museums closed down for so long, artists-to-be can enjoy these striking collections from the comfort of their homes, and make these collections their own by opting for alternative coloring schemes.

Johannes von Cuba, Gart der Gesuntheit: zu latein Hortus sanitatis, Strasbourg: Mathia Apiario, 1536 Boston Athenaeum

You can check out all the #ColorOurCollections here, and if you do end up coloring anything, do share it with us, as well as the institution that uploaded it — I’m sure they’d love to see it.

Here are a few more of our favorites from this year.

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