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

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 yellow.

The colour of gold was first created from clay pigments and is one of the oldest colours to be used in art. Yellow can be seen in prehistoric cave art. The Egyptians used yellow in tomb paintings extensively and on mummies because it looks like gold.

TWCMS : G12142a (left) and TWCMS : 08 : 1004 (right)
TWCMS : 2015 : 1768 (left), TWCMS : S26a (middle) and TWCMS : 15 : 2445a (right)

All sunshine and happiness? It is often linked to the sun meaning it has happy and optimistic connotations.

TWCMS : G17420a (left), TWCMS : 08 : 3441 (middle) and TWCMS : 2002 : 699a (right)

Suffragettes in Kansas, USA, wore yellow ribbons to show their support for votes for women. However, yellow is also linked to cowardice and illness, such as jaundice. In Christianity Judas is often shown wearing yellow after he betrayed Jesus. The phrase ‘yellow-bellied’ describes someone behaving in a cowardly manner.

TWCMS : 2015 : 1730 (left), TWCMS : 94 : 392 : 1 (middle) and TWCMS : 2007 : 1977 (right)
TWCMS : 2011 : 1406 (left) and TWCMS : 09 : 3732 (right)

Did you know? Due to yellow being a bright colour it is often used in emergency signing and high visibility clothing.

TWCMS : 2015 : 1706 (left), TWCMS : 2011 : 816a (middle) and TWCMS : 2015 : 1767 (right)

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