The Library of Rare Colors

  • Published on: 18 March 2019
  • The Forbes Pigment Collection at the Harvard Art Museums is a collection of pigments, binders, and other art materials for researchers to use as standards: so they can tell originals from restorations from forgeries. It's not open to the public, because it's a working research library -- and because some of the pigments in there are rare, historic, or really shouldn't be handled by anyone untrained.

    More about the Forbes Pigment Collection:

    The Harvard Art Museums:

    Edited by Michelle Martin (@mrsmmartin)
    Audio mix by Graham Haerther

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  • Runtime : 5:13
  • tom scott tomscott built for science harvard art museums forbes pigment collection Narayan Khandekar straus center


  • Tom Scott
    Tom Scott   1 years ago

    I realised, after filming this, that it feels a little weird to have my introduction outside the Museum and the interview inside. But I'm weeks out of Boston now, so it has to stand!

  • XxVanillaOatsxX
    XxVanillaOatsxX   1 weeks ago

    Me:oh this is the guy that protects the most rarest colors!

  • S_VB
    S_VB   1 weeks ago

    do they have uranium oxide paint?

  • Christopher Dibbs
    Christopher Dibbs   1 weeks ago

    Funny how while saying about the colours not being able to be truly represented digitally, they show pink.

  • Sam
    Sam   2 weeks ago

    I'm a simple human. I saw colors and left a like🌈

  • Lars
    Lars   2 weeks ago

    Casually pours all of the colors together in a bucket and mixes them.

  • Quasar
    Quasar   2 weeks ago

    that speck on the vantablack......

  • Ditrix Genesis
    Ditrix Genesis   4 weeks ago

    hold up, there's a color called dragons blood, and no one thought to tell me?

  • Heath
    Heath   1 months ago

    1:35 CUM ARABIC

  • Bob Stephens
    Bob Stephens   1 months ago

    Have you seen the Colour Museum in Bradford?

  • Max Brandt
    Max Brandt   1 months ago

    Very interesting, let the people from Vallejo or Citadel Colour in there and we mini painters might get a few more new paints to work with.

  • C & C Miller
    C & C Miller   1 months ago

    alternate name : the lib-rare-y of colors

  • Solly Bunny
    Solly Bunny   1 months ago

    The intro punched youtube compresion algorithem in the face

  • K-Next yes very much, all the time.

    Ah... a lot of the artists who used mummy brown didn't actually know where it came from. When people started finding out, it became less and less popular. So they weren't completely crazy.

  • Liquid Mike
    Liquid Mike   1 months ago

    That was way more interesting than I expected

  • mjmdiver
    mjmdiver   1 months ago

    Tom, if you haven't, you should do an episode on how/why magenta isn't a 'real' color... Its a fascinating perspective on color theory;

  • tweezerjam34
    tweezerjam34   2 months ago

    Does it bother anyone else the numbers on the bottles aren’t in order? 🤔🤷‍♂️

  • Topher TheTenth
    Topher TheTenth   2 months ago

    I was once in room where the ambient light was supposed to be the same as Washington D.C., local solar noon, 50% cloud-cover. It was probably a certain day of the year in Washington, D.C.. The purpose of this room was to get an accurate take on the colors of fruits that were being bred to achieve colors (naturally) most appealing to humans. I kinda didn't get it, since not THAT many people buy their fruits outside. Or do they?

  • Topher TheTenth
    Topher TheTenth   2 months ago

    Umm, sorry to say, Tom Scott, but light doesn't come as mixes of three colors. It's the human eye that sends three kinds of color-signal to the brain. The orange light from a laser-beam used to determine how long a meter is is ONE color (and must be by the definition of what a laser-beam is). It isn't orange because it's a mixture of red and yellow light, although there IS a mixture of red and yellow monochromatic lights that will make that same orange in your brain. The monochromatic laser-beam, when it hits something white and can (hopefully rendered non-coherent except as to color) be reflected to your eyes, causes two different kinds of nerves in your eye to respond. One of those nerves outputs red to your brain, and the other outputs yellow. So your brain sees orange, which is a mixture of two SENSATIONS. The laser's light is NOT a mixture of two COLORS.

  • Smarty
    Smarty   2 months ago

    Curator guy: "[Vantablack] doesn't bounce any light back."Cameraman: shows a shadow on vantablack sample.ಠ_ಠ

  • Cynderblood
    Cynderblood   2 months ago

    "It is toxic in the way that it is toxic"

  • cumquatrct3
    cumquatrct3   2 months ago

    Hold on, what's dragon's blood and why is it next to lead white?

  • MrTsiolkovsky
    MrTsiolkovsky   2 months ago

    Incredible that people even pay to maintain this.

  • Smarsh
    Smarsh   2 months ago

    When you write a poison warning on a jar with a Crayon

  • Sing Host
    Sing Host   2 months ago

    Im an artist so i think of art as "DOES IT LOOK RIGHT

  • done dane
    done dane   2 months ago

    vantablack does not absorb all light and is not the darkest black pigment

  • toyamwarr
    toyamwarr   2 months ago

    It just donned on me that this is why purple dye was so expensive until recent history. People had to figure out the correct natural product and method to produce the desired color. Purple was expensive because the color source was hard to find, required a large amount natural and lots of manual labor to produce a small bit, and required additional steps to keep from fading. Now that the color has been synthesized, we don’t even think about the price. The same goes for green. Before someone synthesized the color green, green was an expensive and deadly color to wear because the steps required to produce that color.God I’m slow.

  • Xane Cosmo
    Xane Cosmo   4 months ago

    3:08: oh,ok.3:11 wow, that's amazing.3:16 ewww wtf

  • Luca Chapelle
    Luca Chapelle   5 months ago

    An an Engineer, I think about colour in all theses ways! ^^