Skip to content
Arts & Culture
Link copied to clipboard

Pull out those colored pencils: Museums worldwide are offering free adult coloring books for download

The library at the Mutter Museum is in on the fun. The week-long Color Our Collections includes images from similarly quirky museums around the world.

Go ahead: color in this crocodile skeleton from the Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
Go ahead: color in this crocodile skeleton from the Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.Read moreImage courtesy College of Physicians

Whether you consider yourself a natural born artist or a stick-figure-drawer for life, creating a colorful masterpiece has never been easier, thanks to the Color Our Collections campaign. The week-long initiative (through Feb. 8) invites you to choose from hundreds of adult coloring books, featuring images from the collections of quirky museums, libraries, and archives around the world.

All of the black-and-white images are free to download from the official campaign website, Simply print out the pages that catch your eye and get to work filling in the empty spaces with gel pen, pencil, marker, crayon, or whatever else you have on hand.

You won’t find coloring sheets of paintings from the Louvre here, or from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But you will find five images from the Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians, home to the Mutter Museum — including a U.S. Public Health Service “Syphilis Wrecks Marriage” advertisement.

Other local institutions that are participating include the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Rosenbach, Drexel’s College of Medicine, the Swarthmore College Libraries, the Science History Institute, and the Delaware Museum of Natural History.

The annual campaign was launched in 2016 by the New York Academy of Medicine Library. This year’s version features new submissions from 90 different institutions.

Along with the syphilis advisory, the College of Physicians, encourages you to color a crocodile skeleton hanging out in front of a pyramid, or a superficial muscle dissection of conjoined twins.

Images from Drexel University’s College of Medicine archives include fairytale-like images. In one, a farmer stands in a field amidst an assortment of vegetables that have faces. In another, a woman’s hair is being combed by flying fairies.

Images from the Digital Library at Villanova University include illustrations from The Gentlewoman, an early 20th-century magazine for women showcasing the fashion of the time. There are also samples of Coca Cola ads dating back to 1916.

International entries in this year’s Color our Collections campaign include range from London’s Lambeth Palace Library to to New Zealand’s Auckland War Memorial Museum, the Lithuanian Art Museum, and Germany’s Cologne Public Library.

Participants are encouraged to use the hashtag #ColorOurCollections across social media to show off their creativity.