Sketching with William Henry Holmes

William Henry Holmes and Art Museum Staff, 1929 As the Smithsonian's William Henry Holmes notes in the introduction to his Random Records of a Lifetime"I was born on the same day with the Institution and have been associated more or less closely with all its people from Professor Henry down, and have come to regard myself as an original predestined member of the family. These imperfectly edited volumes of fragments, together with a number of paintings, are all that I have to contribute personally and unofficially to the Institution's diversified and fast multiplying heritage."

And what a contribution—much of which is now transcribed, thanks to the hard work of the volunteers at the Smithsonian Transcription Center! Holmes spent his decades-long career with the Smithsonian as an artist, archaeologist, and anthropologist, merging a scientific mind and an artist's eye. There is no better example of this unique blend than Holmes' field notes, peppered throughout with detailed sketches of Mayan ruins, artifacts, and other sights from his travels. Holmes, who began his career as an artist, also went on to serve as curator of the Smithsonian's National Gallery of Art (now the Smithsonian American Art Museum).

What better way to honor Holmes' legacy than by trying your hand at some scientific sketching? We have created coloring pages from drawings in his field notes. Download the PDF, add your own colorful details, and tag us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to share your #ManyHatsOfHolmes creation!

A sketch by William Henry Holmes, Cozumel, Mexico, 1895.

Related Resources

William Henry Holmes, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives

William Henry Holmes and the Early Days of His National Gallery of Art, Unbound, Smithsonian Libraries

Celebrating Our Man of Many Hats: William Henry HolmesUnbound, Smithsonian Libraries

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