The Science History Institute has teamed up with online learning platform Roundtable to offer you compelling courses from the history of science. This online course features Elisabeth (Lisa) Berry Drago, director of visitor engagement, who will lead us through the first 150 years of synthetic dyes.

Course Overview

​​​For most of human history, textile dyes were organic: they came from plants, insects, or minerals harvested from nature. But then came synthetics — dyes made in the laboratory. For the first time, we could invent colors rather than imitate them. The Science History Institute’s newest exhibition, BOLD: Color from Test Tube to Textile, draws on rich museum collections to explore more than 150 years of synthetic color. The exhibition offers a journey through the history of science with stops at coal mines, factory floors, and fashion runways. Join our curator, Elisabeth Berry Drago, behind the scenes and learn how the exhibition came together. You’ll learn how fashionable 19th-century buyers caught the “mauve measles,” dig into the strange history of Day-Glo, and be inspired by current trends towards sustainability and “green” dye processes.

This is a live, virtual course hosted by Roundtable, which includes interactive opportunities and post-course recordings available for all course participants.


$34 for the course

Lisa outdoors smiliing, wearing blue and white chevron-patterned top

About Elisabeth Berry Drago

​​Elisabeth (Lisa) Berry Drago is director of visitor engagement at the Science History Institute. She has curated numerous exhibitions at the Institute, including Bold: Color from Test Tube to Textile (new in 2023), Things Fall Apart (2017–2018) and Age of Alchemy (2018–2021). Berry Drago is the winner of a 2018 American Alliance of Museums’ Award for Excellence. She holds a PhD in art history from the University of Delaware, specializing in the representation of science and artisanal work, and her most recent book, Painted Alchemists (Amsterdam University Press, 2019), is the first monograph on the painter Thomas Wijck (1616–1677).​

About Roundtable

Roundtable by the 92nd Street Y, New York, is an online learning platform featuring live courses and Q&A sessions with some of the greatest minds of our time: world-renowned historians and scholars, Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, political pundits, and acclaimed food and wine experts, among others. All courses include interactive opportunities with instructors.

Header image: Postcard for General Dyestuff Corporation depicting a worker using a dye bath with colorful strands of fabric draped above the baths, ca. 1953.

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