It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
Henry David Thoreau
Slow Art Day is the global all-volunteer event with a simple mission: help more people discover for themselves the joy of looking at and loving art.
When people look slowly at a piece of art they make discoveries.
The most important discovery they make is that they can see and experience art without an expert (or expertise).
And that’s an exciting discovery. It unlocks passion and creativity and helps to create more art fans.
How Does It work?
One day each year – April 12 in 2014 – people all over the world visit local museums and galleries to look at art slowly. Participants look at five works of art for 10 minutes each and then meet together over lunch to talk about their experience. That’s it. Simple by design, the goal is to focus on the art and the art of seeing.
In fact, Slow Art Day works best when people look at the art on their own slowly and then meet up to discuss the experience (though some hosts decide to do the discussion right in the gallery).
This 2010 ARTNews feature article, Slow Down You Look Too Fast, provides an excellent overview of Slow Art Day.
How does an Art Institution get involved?
Volunteers, as individuals or as museum staff, raise their hands (and register on this site) to host a group at a local museum or gallery. The host selects both the location and the art to view. The global Slow Art Day team (also made up of volunteers) provides the tools and support for hosts to run their own events.
How do individuals volunteer or intern on the global team that runs Slow Art Day?
Slow Art Day is made up entirely of volunteers – including college and high school students who intern with us. Anyone can intern or volunteer from anywhere in the world – it’s a global movement and we work remotely using a variety of digital tools and old-fashioned technology like conference calls.
We have a great team around the world and you’ll learn a lot and have fun working with the team behind Slow Art Day.
Slow Art Day is growing rapidly from its alpha and beta tests in 2009:
- July 2008: Founder Phil Terry experiments with slow looking by spending hours at The Jewish Museum viewing only Hans Hoffman’s Fantasia and Pollock’s Convergence
- August 2009: first test with multiple participants – four people, including Phil, spend hours at MoMA looking at only a few works
- October 2009: 16 museums and galleries in North America and Europe participate in the beta test
- April 2010: 55 venues participate in the official launch
- April 2011: 90 venues on every continent (including Antarctica!)
- April 2012: 101 venues
- April 2013: 272 venues
- April 2014: 160+ venues and growing
Learn more about how Slow Art Day got its start here.
Participants Love Slow Art Day
Feedback on this simple event has been overwhelmingly positive. Here’s a sample:
“I loved taking the time to just “be” with the work, particularly pieces I might otherwise walk by.”
“It was a new and valuable way to SEE the art.”
“It was nice that all we had to do was to take our time looking at art. What a great way to spend a few hours. Then, to make it even better, we had the opportunity to discuss what we saw and think about it together with some thoughtful people over a meal. What is there not to like about that?”
“A much better way of doing the art museum than the usual idle ramble. Discussion afterwards was fun, interesting, informative, eye-opening. Look forward to doing it again soon.”
“The experience exceeded every expectation.”
“It gave me a new framework for looking at art on my own. But then it also provided the opportunity to discuss my perceptions with others who had done the same thing. Brilliant!”
“It was exciting to be engaged in conversations about art! Met some lovely people who share a common passion. Very pleasant and eye opening experience.”
Slow Art Day 2014 is Saturday, April 12, in museums and galleries on every continent. Join us and experience art differently.
I Want to Help!
Volunteers serving as hosts and global organizers power Slow Art Day. There is no formal funding or budget. The one thing all our volunteers have in common? An appreciation for the power of art and a desire to have as many people experience it as possible.
Learn more about how you can get involved.
We also have an internship program for college students. Learn more.
We extend a special thank you to our volunteer hosts on every continent, without them, Slow Art Day would not be possible.