A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my experience at the Louvre this past summer. Basically, it wasn’t too great.
Turns out maybe I was just doing it wrong. 😉
According to a recent article in the New York Times, The Art of Slowing Down In A Museum, if people just took the time to slow down – a LOT – we might enjoy ourselves more.
“When you go to the library,” said James O. Pawelski, the director of education for the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, “you don’t walk along the shelves looking at the spines of the books and on your way out tweet to your friends, ‘I read 100 books today!’” Yet that’s essentially how many people experience a museum. “They see as much of art as you see spines on books,” said Professor Pawelski, who studies connections between positive psychology and the humanities. “You can’t really see a painting as you’re walking by it.”
…psychologists and philosophers such as Professor Pawelski say that if you do choose to slow down — to find a piece of art that speaks to you and observe it for minutes rather than seconds — you are more likely to connect with the art, the person with whom you’re touring the galleries, maybe even yourself, he said. Why, you just might emerge feeling refreshed and inspired rather than depleted…
If you have an hour he suggests wandering for 30 minutes, and then spending the next half-hour with a single compelling painting….
Might you miss some other works by narrowing your focus? Perhaps. But as Professor Pawelski put it, sometimes you get more for the price of admission by opting to see less…
Professor Pawelski said it’s still a mystery why viewing art in this deliberately contemplative manner can increase well-being or what he calls flourishing… He theorized, however, that there is a connection to research on meditation and its beneficial biological effects. In a museum, though, you’re not just focusing on your breath, he said. “You’re focusing on the work of art.”
Sounds good to me! I’m really looking forward to trying this approach next time I get the chance.
Have you ever done this? Would you try it?