On April 10, 2021, the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hosted both in-person and virtual sessions for their 7th Slow Art Day.
For the in-person activity, visitors were first introduced to the concept of slow looking, and were then invited to practice what they learned as they walked through the museum. Participants were encouraged to share their experiences on social media and tag the museum with #PMASlowArtDay.
The virtual event consisted of four separate Zoom sessions focused on slow looking, writing, making, and mindfulness.
For the slow looking session, participants were encouraged to use a naturalist’s attention to detail when looking at still life paintings. Using tools like the Google Art & Education app allowed them to zoom in and experience works of art in a different way compared to in-person.
The Slow Making session took the form of a workshop inspired by the work of artist Judith Rothschild. For this session, participants cut and collaged materials to create their own mixed-media work of art, which resulted in the works you see below.
For this session, participants were guided in a communal writing exploration of portraits in the museum’s exhibition Painting Identity. Participants were asked to imagine and write about the subjects’ identity.
For this virtual session, the Yogi, martial artist, and body worker J Miles of Maha Vira Yoga encouraged participants to find their inner calm with a slow, guided look at a selection of works from the PMA’s collection. This section had a more internal approach compared to the other three sessions.
The events were well received, and the virtual participants responded positively to the PMA survey on Slow Art Day:
“The programs will make me more mindful when visiting the museum. I appreciated the opportunities to look more deeply at works of art that I might have otherwise skipped by.”Participant’s quote
“A lovely creative and mindful way to start my day”Participant’s quote after attending the Museum Mindful Session
“Taking time to smell the virtual flowers and using Google Art & Education app to zoom in on every area of a painting; seeing that each component had significance in the painting.”Participant’s quote after having attended the Slow Looking session
“…slowing down & listening to/reading other participants comments, seeing their creations… is very rewarding and opens new vistas.”Participant’s quote after having attended the Slow Making session
“Very creative and uplifting. I felt renewed and encouraged, and also came up with some ideas for my own teaching”Participant’s quote after having attended the Slow Writing session
At Slow Art Day HQ, we want to thank the Philadelphia Museum of Art for hosting yet another wonderful event. The range of activities they designed inspire us and educators around the world to consider creating multiple workshops and experiences for Slow Art Day.
We look forward to whatever creative designs the Philadelphia Museum of Art comes up with in 2022.
Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl
The Art Gallery of St. Albert, Canada, pivoted their 2021 event at the last minute from planned in-person sessions to their social media pages and the Gallery’s virtual exhibitions. They did this because four days before Slow Art Day 2021, the Canadian provincial government announced further lockdowns.
The situation the Gallery faced is, of course, similar to what many other museums have had to contend with since this pandemic began in 2020. However, time after time, we have seen museum educators, directors, and curators rise to the challenge and connect people to each other and to art in new and creative ways.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that the Art Gallery of St. Albert decided to commemorate and promote slow looking despite not being able to host their event as planned. Leah Louden, Interim Director, said that they are already planning their Slow Art Day 2022.
To the staff at the Art Gallery of St. Albert, and all other museums and galleries that had planned events which did not go through — thank you for supporting Slow Art Day and your communities through these trying times.
– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl
We also recommend checking out one of their beautifully designed annual reports
For their first Slow Art Day, the MO Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania, organized a free multi-lingual international event on Zoom as part of their MO Conversations program. On 10 April 2021, the museum hosted five conversation groups throughout the day to discuss ‘Interior XI,’ an artwork by Romanas Vilkauskas, in English, Russian, or Lithuanian.
Participants were invited to join a session in their preferred language and look slowly at the artwork before joining a discussion with one of the facilitators: Karen Vanhercke for English; Simona Košinskaitė and Justina Kaminskaitė for Lithuanian; and Irina Leto for Russian.
The aim was to encourage participants to connect with a single artwork for an entire hour, and no prior knowledge of art was required. The facilitators were well versed in the “visual thinking strategy” (VTS) discussion technique, which they used for the sessions.
Participants loved the event and left positive feedback:
Looking at, instead of reading about, the art: the practice of ‘slow art’ transformed my experience and gave me a deeper connection.Participant’s quote
Actually, the major takeaway from today’s Zoom call, was my change of perception! In one hour the artpiece changed in front of my eyes. In the beginning it was just an artwork, but in the end it was a story.Participant’s quote
The discussion made me appreciate it on different levels: peeling away at the layers of expression… It is truly a great piece, and great to see how timeless and flexible art can be.Participant’s quote
At Slow Art Day HQ, we are excited that the MO Museum designed such an inclusive slow art event in three different languages. We encourage museum educators to consider multi-lingual options for future Slow Art Day events, and we look forward to whatever they come up with in 2022.
Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl
For their first Slow Art Day, Vänersborg Art Gallery, in Vänersborg, Sweden, organized an in-person event featuring three artworks by artist Bo Ljung from the exhibition Lysande Utsikter (“Brilliant Views” or “Great Expectations”).
On April 10, 2021, participants joined this Gallery in southern Sweden after hours to participate in the slow looking event. They looked at each of the three artworks for 10 minutes, and then had an open and stimulating discussion about their experience. Food and water were provided. You can view the artworks from Bo Ljung’s exhibition here.
Reflecting on the event, Kajsa Frostensson, Gallery Manager, said they learned a lot from their pilot Slow Art Day and look forward to running more slow looking events in the future.
The openness in mind and thought that is required [during slow looking] is something I think we need training in, and we as an organizer also need training in administrating the talking afterwards. Nevertheless, it was a good experience and I liked it very much. So did our participants.Kajsa Frostensson
While Kajsa and her team may be new at this, they have already contributed one good idea to the global Slow Art Day movement: host slow looking sessions after regular hours. Other galleries and smaller museums might want to borrow this idea. We imagine that an after hours session helps to support slow looking in this fast-paced world of ours.
We look forward to whatever other innovations Vänersborg Art Gallery comes up with for their second Slow Art Day in 2022.
Johanna, Ashley, Jessica, and Phyl
P.S. You can also follow the Gallery’s Facebook page for more updates.