Art isn’t just good for your cocktail-party conversation. Whether you’re looking for an oasis of calm or an array of new ideas, visiting a museum or an art gallery more regularly can have a positive impact on personal wellbeing.
A recent study carried out by the British nonprofit Art Fund found that, among the study’s 2,521 participants, visiting museums and galleries was a common way to de-stress. Art Fund’s study, published under the title “Calm and Collected — Museums and galleries: the U.K.’s untapped well-being resource?”, details that 63% of U.K. adults used a visit to a museum or gallery to de-stress, while only 6% of them visit a museum or gallery regularly. Those who do visit museums and galleries regularly, the study noted, report a greater sense of satisfaction with their lives than those who have never visited, as well as a greater sense of their lives and what they do being worthwhile.
Indeed, museums and galleries can offer an oasis of peace and tranquillity, or an array of stimulating new ideas by giving us additional topics of conversation within your social circle, helping you learn new things in a fun way, and giving you moments of calm to reflect.
But how to make the most of an art exhibition?
Don’t try to see everything. Pick five or six paintings, sculptures, or other pieces and focus your time on really looking at them. Then, take a good long look at the piece you have chosen to spend time on; what does it make you feel? Take deep, slow breaths and push everything else out of your mind while you are looking at the painting or sculpture. With this new information, look again. Get up close, and back away. Break it into pieces in your mind, and put it back together again. Try engaging with the art in a mindful way. Instead of worrying about what it’s meant to mean or judging it, use your senses and think more about how it makes you feel. You don’t need to be knowledgeable about art to enjoy the benefits: just let your thoughts wander.