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.
On April 10, the museum started their Slow Art Day by sharing three artworks to Instagram.
Viewers were asked to respond with one-word descriptions of the images, which the museum turned into word clouds to illustrate the feelings evoked. “Breezy”, “depth” and “freedom” were frequent responses.
The museum also produced a slow looking video that features the sculpture “The Fist” by Alice Morgan Wright. Viewers were encouraged to find a quiet space, silence their technology, take a few deep breaths, and observe the sculpture for one minute in silence. The video slowly circles the sculpture, allowing viewers to see it from every angle. At the end of the minute, the video moderator guides participants through thought provoking questions about the sculpture. View the video below and try this slow-looking activity for yourself.
For the Zoom-based wellness workshop ‘Making Meaning: Meditating on Artwork as Wellness’, participants were guided through an hour of exploring, viewing, and discussing works of art with licensed art therapist Chloe Hayward. They were also invited to share an object from their personal space as a vehicle for connecting to the artworks. The session ended with a guided meditation.
People responded positively to the digital events hosted by the Albany Institute, with one participant calling them “invaluable at this time”. Victoria Waldron, Education Assistant at the Albany Institute, said the Albany Institute’s first Slow Art Day program was a success, with 60+ combined participant and social media interactions.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that the Albany Institute of History and Art chose to host five connected events for their first Slow Art Day, and are already excited to see what they plan for Slow Art Day 2022.
Images of three artworks from the MART collection were emailed to the 15 registered participants ahead of joining a Zoom session. Once in the virtual session, participants were given 45 minutes to look slowly at three artworks. They then split into 3 discussion groups, each led by a coordinator, that focused on the emotions and observations of the participants while viewing the works. Participants were then asked to give each artwork their own title based on emotions experienced during the slow looking. The day after the session, participants were sent a brief profile of each artwork that included the emotional titles, the actual title, and the name of the artist, date, and art movement.
Below is one of the artworks along with a word cloud of the emotional titles given by the participants. Some of these translate to: “Disgust”, “Towards tomorrow?”, “Artist’s self-portrait”, “Who am I?”.
The event was well recieved by all the attendees, with one participant commenting:
“See how this way of following art stimulates a lot of creativity in us. Beautiful. We are like amateur jazz improvisers, extemporizing on a score!”
That’s right. Slow looking is like jazz improvisation. We love this design of MART’s first official Slow Art Day event and hope that others decide to copy this.
Note that their Slow Art Day was not their first slow looking series. In 2020, local art enthusiast and MART member Piero Consolati approached Denise Bernabe, the Membership Coordinator at MART, about the possibility of organizing slow art sessions. Thanks to their initiative, MART has hosted nine slow art sessions since May 2020, which are now held monthly at the museum (so far, mostly virtually).
At Slow Art Day HQ we are delighted that slow looking has become a staple activity for the MART Museum. Denise Bernabe and Piero Consolati share updates with us about the status of slow art at MART throughout the year.
We look forward to MART’s continued events throughout the year, and their celebration of Slow Art Day in 2022.
More than 110 museums* and galleries around the world are slowing down today – to create more inclusive environments that allow everyone to learn how to look at and love art.
We are really excited about the many creative events happening all over the world today. And we look forward to learn in the coming weeks more about what the educators and curators designed for this year (and we will be working with them to write-up and publish their 2021 reports).
Meanwhile, if you are looking to participate in a Slow Art Day event today, then you can go to your local museum or gallery to see if they are planning an event – or, you can click here on the official venues for this year. (tip: some of the links direct you to a museum homepage, from there go to their “events” section or search for “Slow Art Day”).
You can also check Instagram #slowartday2021.
Because of the pandemic, many events will be virtual allowing you to participate anywhere in the world.
Again, happy Slow Art Day!
– Phil, Johanna, Maggie, Ashley, and the whole volunteer team
*P.S. 110 is the official count, though we know many more are also celebrating.
In a terrific feature-length article published yesterday, the Washington Post writer Kelsey Ables covered slow looking, Slow Art Day, our message of radical inclusivity, and encouraged readers to sign up to one of the 90+ venues around the world for this year’s global event.
Participating museums like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Museum of Women in the Arts are featured in the article, as is our friend, Jennifer Roberts, an art history professor at Harvard.
Further, the article highlighted a key element of our mission: increasing the accessibility of museums. From the beginning, we’ve believed that slow looking is an act of radical inclusivity where the viewer includes themselves, rather than being lectured to or told how to look. This radical inclusivity we believe is key to opening up museums and galleries to many more people.
[Note: Slow Art Day 2021 is coming up Saturday, April 10 – read the 2020 report for ideas on how to design your slow looking events.]
In this interview, Annalisa Banzi, Ph.D. (researcher in museum studies, psychology and neuroscience at CESPEB-Bicocca University) shares some ideas on “Wellness and Museums” with Elisabetta Roncati (art influencer), and focuses on Slow Art Day as a great example of programs that help with mental health.
Banzi and Roncati discuss the powerful effect of slow looking and how Slow Art Day is radically inclusive – i.e., allows people to include themselves in the art experience.
Moreover, Banzi argues that Slow Art Day has become a useful way to enhance people’s mental wellbeing during the pandemic *and* has given an important way for museums to interact with visitors all over the world.
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.
As we approach the end of this year, the Slow Art Day HQ team extends a big thank you to all Slow Art Day 2020 hosts and participants around the world.
2020 obviously hasn’t been what anyone expected or wanted.
But feedback from the museums and galleries that ran virtual Slow Art Day events in April repeatedly demonstrates how important art is, particularly during this pandemic (our annual report detailing the best practices from these virtual events will be coming out in January 2021).
We are grateful to all the curators of education and their teams who made Slow Art Day happen during this pandemic. The world owes you a debt of gratitude.
We hope that it will be possible for you to host in-person events for Slow Art Day next year on April 10, 2021 – though we recognize that virtual events may still be what’s possible in many places around the world.
As a reminder of how art – and the art of slow looking – bring us together, above we share a photo from the Slow Art Day event held at the *packed* Sint-Pauluskerk in Antwerp, Belgium, in 2019.
Look at the people in the pews, the orchestra, the choir – not an open seat in the house.
With heartfelt wishes, season’s greetings, and the hope that we get back as soon as possible to packed museums, galleries, concert halls, churches, synagogues, mosques, and theaters.
The videos were accompanied by prompts, and viewers were invited to respond in the comments.
We have included the prompts below. Why not watch the videos and try some slow looking?
Prompt to the Vance Barry video:
Think about the landscape features you see. What colors and shapes do you notice? How would this landscape sound if you were there? What, if anything, is missing from the landscape?
Prompt to the Sally Veach video:
Think about the colors you see and the shapes you notice. Take a deep breath and look again. Do you notice a different shape or color this time?What time of year do you think the artist is trying to convey? Does this painting remind you of anything you’ve seen out in the world? How does it make you feel?
In total the videos reached 800+ people. Several participants left comments on Facebook, describing Sally Veach’s paintings as “breathtaking”. One viewer also noted that ‘Autumn Ascension’ made him think of the chill of fall before an incoming storm.
Thank you to Mary Ladrick, Director of Education, and her team for hosting a great first Slow Art Day event. The 2020 pandemic meant that museums and galleries had to host virtual events this year, but the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley really rose to the challenge.
We look forward to what they come up with for Slow Art Day 2021.
For their third Slow Art Day, the Sint-Pauluskerk in Antwerp, Belgium, produced a slow-panning video of Peter Paul Rubens’ painting ‘The Flagellation of Christ’.
Narrated by Wilfried Van den Brande, with text by Rudi Mannaerts, the video features the stunning inside of the church and a commentary on Rubens’ artwork (click on the photo below to watch).
Previously on loan to the Doge’s palace in Venice, the painting returned to Antwerp in time for the Slow Art Day event. Since Easter fell on the week following Slow Art Day this year, the painting’s theme of Christ’s suffering fit in well with the pre-Easter church calendar.
Many thanked the church for sharing the video, and several explicitly talked about how much they missed visiting the actual church. The Facebook video was viewed 2,535 times.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we are delighted that the thoughtful connection between the event hosted by Sint-Pauluskerk and the Easter holiday was so well received.
We hope that Sint-Pauluskerk will be able to open its doors for Slow Art Day 2021.
For their second Slow Art Day, Railway Street Studios in Auckland, New Zealand, hosted a virtual event focused on Toni Mosley’s ‘CASE: Allegory’ series of art, which was inspired by the simple question: ‘what’s your baggage?’
As a result of thinking about that question, Mosley decided to explore suitcases as metaphorical symbols for emotional baggage, notions of mobility and journeys, and as containers of secrets, knowledge and memories. Not surprisingly, this theme ended up having significant resonance for home-bound viewers during the pandemic.
On April 4th, 2020, participants were invited to look slowly for 5-10 minutes at a selection of Mosley’s art:
Participants were given four prompts to guide their slow looking:
What do you notice? The obvious and the subtle.
Does this remind you of anything? A story — personal, historical. A single meaning or multiple?
Color and mood? Do you have an initial emotional response?
Does this piece bring up any questions? This could be metaphorical or technical.
The challenge that Railway Street Studios had to confront in the design of its virtual event was how to encourage attendees to really slow down and look. They came up with a simple, but effective, strategy: ask people to write down and send in their answers to the four prompts above for the chance to win an original artwork by Toni Mosley.
Fiona Cable, founder of Railway Street Studios, said it worked. Participants enjoyed the process and took time to think carefully about answers to the prompts, which they then submitted via a link on the Railway Street Studios’ website.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we thoroughly enjoyed the depth of symbolism in Toni Mosley’s artworks — especially given the shut-down of travel during the pandemic — and were also impressed by Railway Street Studios’ initiative to host a prize competition as a way to incentivize virtual slow looking.
We hope to see another creative event from Railway Street Studios for Slow Art Day on April 10th in 2021.