Red Thread Banner Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, Anonymous, Hairpin with Dragon Design, Qing dynasty (1644-1912), gold filigree, coral, pearls, and kingfisher feathers, MWCH9:55.


This site grew out of a course, The Global History of Color, taught by Vera Keller at the University of Oregon in 2018, tracing the global history of a range of natural reds, such as ochre, cinnabar, red lead, vermilion, dragon's blood, kermes, cochineal, madder, coral, red glass and enamels to the first synthetic dyes developed in the late nineteenth century. These pigments take us on a dramatic journey, criss-crossing the globe, from the furthest reaches of human history to contemporary Big Pharma. They offer a visual history of human exploitation of nature, as well as of attempts to surpass nature through art. You can follow this journey through the story map below, as well as through the digital exhibition of student research on objects drawn from University of Oregon collections, such as the Special Collections and University Archives, Knight Library and the Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Elsewhere on the site, you can find additional resources for learning and teaching more using the lens of the color red, from suggested further digital projects, secondary sources, rare original works in Special Collection, and the physical collection of pigments and teaching aide, the Traveling Scriptorium.

Explore Student Work



Click to Explore Student EssaysMS 30, Privilegia et documenta ad monasterium S. Zenonius Maiorii Veronae, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.