You know what’s the problem with this modern world? People look at art too damn fast. Most viewers spend all of eight seconds looking at an art piece in a museum or gallery. What’s the rush, guys? Got somewhere to be?
That’s what Phil Terry, founder of Reading Odyssey and CEO of Creative Good, wanted to know. In 2008, Terry tried out this unique experiment: instead of speed walking through a gallery, taking in hundreds of paintings and processing none of them, he decided he would look at a just a few pieces for an extended period of time each. The effect was profound.
Terry tried the experiment again, this time asking a few people to join him in looking at another small set of works at the MOMA in New York City. When this second experiment proved successful, Terry organized a third, this time involving 16 museums in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, with groups of slow art viewers led by volunteer hosts. The third event was a success. Participants discovered a deeper appreciation of the work, noticing subtle details and forming the kind of thoughtful analyses they had always relied upon experts to tell them. The result was a deeper love of looking at and thinking about art.
Following the success of his third experiment, Terry launched Slow Art Day, a global event involving over 200 museums and galleries all over the world. Celebrating Slow Art Day, which happens Saturday, April 27, is simple. Find a participating venue from the list at slowartday.com. Then, on April 27, show up at your venue and look at the assigned 5 pieces of art for 5-10 minutes each. Afterwards, meet up with your volunteer host and the other participants at a pre-assigned lunch spot to talk about your observations.
Last I checked, the closest venue is the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, but here’s what’s awesome: if you don’t see a venue near you, you can volunteer to host at a local museum or gallery by signing up at slowartday.com.
You know what else is rad about Slow Art Day? You can take the principle of it and apply it to your personal art viewing experience whenever you like. Make every day Slow Art Day. It’s your life!