Storing the World’s Rarest Colors

When one thinks of valuable entities, commonly we lean toward precious stones, gold, or maybe even water. The Harvard pigment library, however, houses another priceless thing: rare colors, colors that people used to search the world to find. Narayan Khandekar, the collection’s custodian (and the director of the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at the Harvard Art Museums), says the work is approached similarly to that of a forensic scientist, “We examine and find out what we can about the key compounds that will tell us the material’s origin.” Khandekar discussed the stories behind 10 hues—Mummy Brown, Dragon’s Blood and more—with FastCo.