This free resource will take you on a tour of the world through art

You can bring life to a demon from Lyon, France. Or turn an armored rhinoceros blue. You could go down the rabbit hole with Alice and friends.

In the cold winter months, it can be tempting to get away. And you can — without ever paying a dime.

You can bring life to a demon from Lyon, France. Or turn an armored rhinoceros blue. You could go down the rabbit hole with Alice and friends. Or help a mythical creature devour a snake.


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All of this is possible with only a few crayons or colored pencils and a printer, thanks to the New York Academy of Medicine Library. For the past few years, hundreds of museums and organizations have digitized coloring book versions of their collections for the

#ColorOurCollections project, pioneered by the New York-based academy in 2016.

Images feature botanical drawings, Medieval works, 20th-century bookplates, and much more. In 2019, participating institutions include such diverse organizations as the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the Auckland Museum, the Lithuanian Art MuseumMemoria Chilena and the British Library, according to The New York Academy of Medicine Library’s website.

Each participating body has uploaded a printable PDF. The document may include only a single illustration, or it might offer multiple coloring experiences from different genres and times. Anyone who wants to download a copy of one of the coloring book PDFs can, free of charge.

Here are a few examples of what the coloring books have to offer:

Credit: British Library
Credit: New York State Library
Credit: University of Glasgow
Credit: National Library of Russia
Credit: Washington State Library

These resources are likely welcome gifts to school teachers and parents who need an educational way to entertain their kids. But with their international landscapes and historical significance, the coloring pages should also speak to adults.

And why would adults color, you may ask? Well, coloring may help to reduce stress. For years now, Americans have turned to adult coloring books as a therapeutic exercise — Amazon is chock-full of cute selections for those who are 18+.

But unlike those books, #ColorOurCollections’s PDFs don’t require payment, shipping or handling. And they’re unique and engaging: Art from around the world is suddenly at your fingertips, and you can let your imagination go wherever you like. So start coloring in Mr. Rhino, and once you do, be sure to tag #ColorOurCollections in your obligatory Insta post.

So let’s round up some crayons and start our adventure. There are so many places we could go.


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Alexandra Villarreal|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at avillarreal@theladders.com.