Slow Art Day - Looking Longer and Discovering More

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

Henry David Thoreau

Slow Art Day is a global event with a simple mission: help more people discover for themselves the joy of looking at and loving art.

April 14th (this coming Saturday!) is ‘Slow Art Day’ around the world – an event opted into by art museums everywhere, to encourage a longer gaze, and deeper contemplation of selected works of art. The original idea behind the concept of ‘slow art’ (although it is not the art itself that is slow, it is you as a visitor) is that many museums and arts enthusiasts understand how overwhelming an art museum can be. Especially massive museums with encyclopaedic collections. By encouraging visitors to slow down, and take in just a few works of art, really focusing their gaze, minds, and thoughts – a wider appreciation for the piece is achieved. 

Very quickly pacing through a museum and glancing briefly at the works is a common obstacle many interpretative professionals attempt to solve. A colleague of mine touched on this topic in this blog post last year, observing how the average visitor only looks at an artwork for around 11 seconds. 11 seconds! What can one possibly absorb from a work of art in such a short amount of time? How can we encourage visitors to slow down, really take time and let their mind wander as their gaze moves slowly over an artwork? 

Slow Art Day seems to me like a great idea. But it is only one day, and not even happening across that many museums. So how can we bring the practice of ‘slow art’ to everyday museum visits? For me, it’s all about the interpretive content (audio guides, multimedia guides). Telling a great story, drawing the visitor’s attention to a selection of your collection in a way that will not just encourage, but demand they look at a work for longer than 11 seconds. The results can be astounding – higher engagement, higher appreciation, higher repeat visits, and overall a more enjoyable , memorable visit. 

I myself will denifinitely be participating – especially since my Alma Mater’s (Loyola University – Go Ramblers!) Museum LUMA here in Chicago is participating – who else is stopping by their favorite local spot for a some slow art? Let me know…

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