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Color Our Collections!


Despite considering myself a very serious grownup, I still can’t help getting excited when I open up a new box of crayons with its rainbow of colors ready for the picking. That excitement is part of why I’m so pleased that the VHS is participating in this year’s #ColorOurCollections event from February 1 – February 5, 2016.

When considering which collection pieces we’d use to create our series of coloring sheets, we began by exploring the Society’s collection of wallpaper books. These rare books are actually folders of large-scale lithographs designed to advertise wall embellishments available to wealthy home decorators in the late 1800s. Our first selection is a detail from one of Jules Desfossé’s Papiers Peints featuring a cherub holding a bouquet of flowers; it’s easy to picture a decoration like this adorning the walls of an elegant European home.

Our next selection is one of the Society’s most popular three-dimensional artifacts: our 1946 Wurlitzer 1015 “Bubbler” Jukebox. I’ve taken countless visitors past this piece in our Story of Virginia galleries, and its glowing colors and bouncing bubbles never fail to bring a smile to their faces. This particular model features 24 song titles for listeners to choose among, and was one of Wurlitzer’s most popular models. My favorite story about this particular artifact, though, is that one of its owners supposedly traded a milk cow for the jukebox – something that I imagine would prove more entertaining than livestock.

Next, we have an illustration from the German book Slovenly Peter Reformed, by Heinrich Hoffman. This image is a staff favorite here, mostly because its unusual nature. The cautionary tales in this rare book (translated from the original German for American readers) reminded children of the dire consequences of their misbehavior. The unfortunate Peter, seen here, loses his friends after refusing to keep up his grooming habits. In fairness to Peter’s peers, I too would avoid anyone with such terrifying fingernails!

Our last selection is an image from our collection of 156 drawings by Civil War journalist Edwin Forbes. This drawing, “Dispatch Bearer,” depicts a rider bearing a message galloping past the artist; lines of artillerymen can be seen in the background of the image. Forbes spent two and a half years as a part of the “Bohemian Brigade” during the Civil War; these non-combatant artists and journalists documented the reality of the war for public consumption.

Below, you’ll find printable versions of coloring sheets we’ve created for you to download and cover in whatever colors spring from your imagination. I can’t wait to see how coloring enthusiasts around the country (and world!) transform these images from our collections into bright, vibrant works of art.

This activity offers us a chance to show a few gems that visitors aren’t likely to see by browsing our website or touring our galleries, and illustrates the diversity of our holdings. Use the accession numbers on the coloring pages to learn more about these selections on our online catalog, and please share your finished masterpieces with us on Facebook and Twitter using the #ColorOurCollections hashtag. At the end of the week, we’ll randomly select a name from the submitted sheets to win a prize pack full of Virginia Historical Society goodies, so be sure to post your photos by Friday, February 5, 2016.

Happy coloring!

Caroline Legros is the School Program Coordinator at the Virginia Historical Society.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ann permalink
    02/05/2016 5:29 pm

    How do I get the pics to download? It’s not working for me.


    • 02/08/2016 2:41 pm

      If you click on the small images in the blog, you will be taken to a slideshow of all of the coloring pages. From there you should be able to click on “view full size” to open each page individually. You can then use your browser’s print feature to print the pages, or “Save Page As” to save a copy to your computer.


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