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Date: 2018-09-10

What is known as 'The Forbes Pigment Collection' at Harvard University is a collection of over 3000 colourants assembled by the late Edward Waldo Forbes, former director of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard from 1909 to 1945.


Currently, the core collection of pigments is housed in the Straus Center for Conservation in Harvard while the Forbes' private collection of pigments reside at the Institute of Fine Arts Conservation Center at New York University. In addition to being their own artworks, Forbes’ pigments are a window to the past, shedding light on the working methods and preferred materials of renowned artists. Studying the pigments also reveals the effort it took, in the days before synthetic pigments, to get colours just right.

The materials collection, at the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, MA, houses thousands of pigments, including some of the world’s rarest.

Dragon's Blood, Mummy, Indian Yellow: these are but a few flashy highlights from the museum's collection and this man protects the 3000 pigments that can be derived from the resin from items like mummified wrappings and dried bull urine.

Take a minute and learn some fascinating facts about traditional pigments and be the interesting one the next time you're out for drinks with your mates!

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