Read it and get inspired by how educators around the world engaged the public during the pandemic.
Also, get practical tips for designing virtual events.
A few highlights from 2020:
2020 was our 10th anniversary. Since we began, more than 1,500 Slow Art Day events have been held in museums around the world, including The Tate Modern, SFMoMA, The Art Gallery of Ontario, The National Gallery in Australia, and The Art Institute of Chicago, to name a few.
We hosted virtual webinar training just after the lockdowns on how to use Zoom and host virtual events, with participants from several continents.
This Sunday, March 29 at 11am NYC time, we plan to run a Zoom training session for educators and curators and others involved in virtual Slow Art Day planning. If you want to join that, then respond to this post in the comments (we’ll also be inviting hosts via email).
The Frye Art Museum in Seattle, WA combined looking, drawing, and shared discussion for their Slow Art Day 2019.
The museum chose a single artwork in their current exhibition Tschabalala Self as a focus.
Each person then participated in three connected activities:
a close-looking session
a detailed artwork discussion rooted in Visual Thinking Strategies
a drawing activity and discussion with a partner (to see the drawing activity they used, watch this video here…the drawing assignment begins at about minute 3)
During the drawing portion, one participant noted it was “meaningful to exchange our drawing with a partner, interpret each other’s, then explain our own.” The museum also provided a self-guided form for visitors to lead their own slow looking art exploration.
Caroline Byrd who works in the Education Department at the museum says, “Slow Art Day is an accessible, inventive, and community-oriented opportunity that we continue to look forward to each year.” We couldn’t have said it better and appreciate the creativity they brought to the design of their day.
AX, the Arts and Culture Centre of Sussex in New Brunswick, Canada, held a multi-sensory Slow Art Day 2019 led by artist Deanna Musgrave, who had recently researched and written her Master’s thesis on multi-sensory art experiences.
Musgrave, whose own art was being shown, began by guiding the participants through a relaxation exercise, using sound and voice commands to invite the audience to achieve a trance-like state. She then focused on three pieces of work and encouraged viewers to experience tastes (wine, chocolate, peaches), smell (wine and peppermint), and sounds (recorded instruments) paired with each piece.
According to AX, audience members, ranging in age from 8 to 70, said that the slow multi-sensory session really enhanced their experience.
In other good news, Bonny Hill, Exhibitions Committee Chair at AX said they recently applied for and were awarded a grant to curate and host an exhibition of artists who work in the “slow art” style, using outdated technology and painstaking methods to create contemporary work. That exhibition will launch in early 2020, and perhaps be the focus of their Slow Art Day 2020.
Asia Kuzmiczow, the Artist Manager at Beeldend Gesproken in Amsterdam, designed a wonderful (and sold out) Slow Art Day 2019.
She and her team decided to focus on one artwork for one full hour from the photo exhibition Different Perspectives. My first Slow Art Day test in 2008 was also one hour with one artwork. I subsequently decided to suggest 10 minutes per artwork for the global event to make it more accessible, but still love the one hour format and am glad they used it in Amsterdam.
After 60 minutes of intense viewing, they then enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by the artist Sook Bae.
Asia and her team received some terrific feedback including:
Slow Art Day for me was literally a delight. A delight because of the invite to sit down, look without thinking, feeding the mind; having food for thoughts. It was a welcoming slow digest.
Shirley Herts, Founder www.msindysolutions.nl
P.S. Beeldend Gesproken (“visual voice” – great name) is organized as a social enterprise with a mission focused on presenting artists who experience mental health problems such as autism, burnout or psychotic symptoms. I encourage you to go visit their site and learn more.
Participants looked for 10 minutes at each artwork and then had a group discussion about the experience (and a light lunch). The museum sold special tickets for Slow Art Day at $10 each (including the food) and sold out the event.
L’Amoreaux wrote about a common part of the Slow Art Day experience – the surprising nature of slow time and of focused looking.
When everyone started, I think we were all thinking 10 minutes was an impossible eternity to look at one piece of art. But afterwards, many of us shared how quickly the 10 minutes passed and how surprised we were by what we noticed, especially with pieces we weren’t especially attracted to.
P.S. We are planning a webinar with Nye and L’Amoreaux to discuss the design of their event. More on that soon.
The Oceanside Museum of Art in California reports that they had a “wonderful” multi-sensory Slow Art Day 2019.
The museum developed three self-guided stations aimed at slowly engaging multiple senses – designing multi-sensory experiences is a growing trend in the slow art movement (see the webinar we hosted in January 2019).
The three self-guided stations they created were:
Partner blind-drawing station in their watercolor exhibition
Storytelling station based around Matthew Barnes: Painter of the Night exhibition
Pairing music with paintings in their surrealism exhibition (photo to the left).
They ran Slow Art Day through the weekend and had many more people participate as a result. In fact, Slow Art Day and the self-guided stations were so successful – led to so much visitor participation – that the curatorial staff has asked that stations remain up longer.
The variety of activities – and the multi-sensory element – really allowed visitors to participate in ways that worked for them and that also added a sense of fun.
Andrea Hart, Director of Education and Public Programs at the Oceanside Museum of Art
P.S. I’m particularly pleased with this report given that my mother lived in Oceanside for years and ran a clandestine Slow Art Day at this museum with a few friends when we launched a decade ago.
At the Ulster Museum, Slow Art Day 2019 guides took visitors through the works of Belfast-born artist Gerard Dillon, the British Vorticist movement, and then finished with a screening and discussion of a video art installation examining the political confusion of Brexit by Cornelia Parker – ‘Left, Right & Centre.’
The museum reports the event was quite successful – they had both more staff and more public participation than ever before. They were also proud to have their Slow Art Day event featured by the BBC alongside Tate Modern, Ashmolean Museum (Oxford), Photographer’s Gallery, and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Because of the success of their Slow Art Day annual events, the Ulster Museum now runs a monthly ‘Slow Art Sunday.’ They also integrate slow looking sessions into nearly all their new art exhibitions.
Thanks to the Slow Art Team for organizing such a brilliant global event – an event that has now become a regular and important part of our programming.
Charlotte McReynolds, Art Curator, National Museums Northern Ireland
According to the visitor experience team at Tate Modern, Slow Art Day 2019 was “fantastic.”
They organized two one-hour slow looking sessions split between two artworks and, then, after the sessions, the team invited the visitors to come together for tea, coffee, biscuits, and a discussion about the whole experience.
Here’s what some of the participants said:
“A really interesting session. I’m more mindful of how to observe art in the future.”
“What a wonderful idea!
“I understand now how you can spend so much time in a gallery looking at art!”
“The combination of looking at art slowly and with other people is a real eye opener.”
“Really like the concept. As someone who can feel a bit intimidated by the art world this felt like a really nice way in and gives me more confidence to engage with art in the future.”
“A brilliant concept, lovely to think that this is going on all around the world.”
“I will definitely bring friends next time. Do it again!”
“I felt like a part of a group/community and was an hour well spent.”
“We can’t wait for next year to do it again,” said Adriana Oliveira, Visitor Experience Manager there at Tate Modern.