Colourful Discoveries — exploring Newcastle’s museum collections through colour: Blue

by Helen Vasey, Assistant Keeper of History, Discovery Museum

Step into a world of colour. Discover fascinating objects from across Discovery Museum’s wonderful collections through a kaleidoscopic lens.

Each week we will focus on a different colour linked to our new Google Arts & Culture online exhibition. This week we’re looking into the colour blue.

Blue is the world’s most popular colour and has the greatest variety of meanings.

TWCMS : 06 : 7187 (left), TWCMS : 08 : 1009 (middle) and TWCMS : J2368a (right)
TWCMS : 2005 : 1958 (left) and TWCMS : 09 : 1274a (right)

Before plant-based dyes were created, blue was produced by crushing the semi-precious stone Lapis Lazuli. This made it a luxury colour used sparingly to depict important people in art, for example in Christian art Mary, mother of Jesus, is often shown wearing blue.

TWCMS : 2007 : 1974 (left), TWCMS : 2008 : 508a (middle) and TWCMS : 2009 : 3817b (right)
TWCMS : 2015 : 1723 : 1 (left) and TWCMS : 2010 : 3627 (right)

Are you feeling blue? Blue can have a calming effect due to its link to the sky and water but is also linked to sadness, people who feel unhappy may say they are ‘feeling blue’. Blue the only colour to have a type of music named after it, Rhythm and Blues, and a type of humour. Blue is often used for financial institutions and official organisations, it conveys professionalism and trustworthiness.

TWCMS : 08 : 999 (left) and TWCMS : 2018 : 693 (right)
TWCMS : G12115 (left), TWCMS : 97 : 3827 (middle) and TWCMS : 08 :1003 (right)

Did you know? From the first half of the 20th century blue was the colour worn by baby girls and pink was for baby boys.

TWCMS : 08 : 1073a (left), TWCMS : 95 : 2316a (middle) and TWCMS : 2015 : 1729 : 1 (right)
TWCMS : 06 : 4216 (left), TWCMS : G12131a (middle) and TWCMS : 2010 : 3635a (right)

If you would like to delve deeper into Discovery’s colourful collections, you can explore the online exhibition here.

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