Free Downloadable Coloring Books from the World’s Great Collections

When we came across ColorOurCollections —coloring books derived from artwork in museums, libraries and universities around the world — we remembered a reader’s eloquent description of just how powerful the practice of coloring can be:

To play with color, and allow time to relax into the flow. It actually has opened me to more creativity, and allowing time for such. I’m 60 years old, and cannot draw with any perspective, and I am quite contented with that…With sketched lines and colored pencils I get to practice laying on colors, coordinating and shading and it truly lifts my heart. It doesn’t take an investment, a place to display, and travels easily. I can scan through my few pages anytime and smile… remembering the colors of the desert hills, the rain forest, or the garden where I spent some time, and was inspired, rested, and gave thanks.

It came in answer to our skepticism of the coloring book craze that burst on the scene in 2015, wondering if it was not better to try your hand at your own brand of expression.

New York Botanical Garden

Browsing through the many digital coloring books offered through ColorOurCollections, we think “even better”, to look closely at, and color, the visions of another time, and in that way, dreamily travel through time and space…

Once you start looking into the offerings, it’s hard to stop; there is much to see and learn. Here’s our selection of possibilities for adding your own magical coloring, starting with New York Botanical Garden‘s vintage flower drawings, above.

At Cambridge University’s coloring book, we found this lovely mobile shrine from a richly illuminated 16th Century copy of the Persian version of Qazwini’s The marvels of creation and the oddities of existence…

Cambridge University

The Vatican Collection has a surprising number of treasures. We’d love to color this drawing of Minerva by Giovanni Baglione in the 16th century…

Vatican Collection

 

…or these wonderful sea birds from the 2018 Vatican coloring book

Vatican Collection

 

Harvard Center for the History of Medicine also surprises with creatures that could be from fairy tales…

Harvard Center for the History of Medicine

 

At the Europeana Collection...we found a woodcut for 16th century Italian kitchen

Europeana Collection

And then there’s the Cornell University Albert R. Mann Library’s entomology collections

 

Cornell University Albert R. Mann Library

You’ll find the full range of offerings from ColorOurCollections here. For your own quick browsing, here’s a selection that the great Open Culture compiled:

 

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