Antonio Tempesta’s “Noua racolta de li animali piu curiosi del mondo disegnati et intagliati” (1650) in a coloring book by the University of Missouri Special Collections (courtesy the University of Missouri)

This week, Hyperallergic has told you about museums that you can tour virtually from home, “viral” movies you can stream, and research archives you can browse while you’re practicing “social distancing.” Now, we have another good one for you  — a collection of unique coloring books based on the collections of famous libraries and archives that you can download for free now.

Since 2016, the New York Academy of Medicine has been inviting libraries, archives, and cultural institutions from around the world to provide printable PDF pages based on their collections for free download. More than 100 organizations answered the call under the hashtag #ColorOurCollections. Participating institutions include the University of Oxford, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Biodiversity Heritage Library, among many others.

Here are some unique coloring pages that caught our eyes:

The Getty

Made up of images from the Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, this book is divided into four themes: beauty, longing, strength, and death. The book also provides links to the original artworks for inspiration.

Mosaic Floor with Combat Between Dares and Entellus, about 175, Unknown (courtesy the J. Paul Getty Museum)

University of Minnesota

The Wangensteen Historical Library at the University of Minnesota brings you unicorns, dragons, sea lions, and other unusual creatures from its collection.

Lion of the Sea, from the Wangensteen Historical Library at the University of Minnesota (courtesy the University of Minnesota)

The Smithsonian

Here you can find images of architectural and interior design motifs culled from books at the Smithsonian Libraries.

Plate 1 from Examples of English medieval foliage by James Kellaway Colling, 1874 (courtesy the Smithsonian)


Created by the European Union, Europeana is a web portal containing digitalized museum collections from more than 3,000 institutions across the continent. This particular coloring book is dedicated to women’s history in Europe, from the first medieval depiction of a female dentist to suffrage posters.

Folger Shakespeare Library

Shakespeare’s life was marked by the Great Plague of London (1665-1666) which led, among other calamities, to the closing of theaters in London. Now, you can add color to covers of his famous plays.

The National Archives of the United States (Patents)

How about coloring some strange historical patents like an eye protector for chickens (1903) or a saluting device (1869)?

Patent for a mechanical frog toy (1901) (courtesy of the Records of the Patent and Trademark Office)

Russian State Library

The Russian State Library is the largest library in Russia and the second largest library in the world. It provides images of famous ballerinas for coloring, drawn from the library’s archives.

An image of Russian Ballerina Olga Preobrazhenskaya for coloring (courtesy the Russian State Library)

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant and he holds an MFA in Art Writing from the School of Visual...