Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art Hosts First Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day, the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art (AKMA), in St Joseph, Missouri, invited visitors to slowly look at three works of art:

  • Frederick Judd Waugh, “Ladies Having Tea,” 1890. Oil on canvas.
  • Emily Dubowski, “Sunday Visit,” 1972. Acrylic on panel.
  • Luis Jimenez, “Eagle and Snake II,” 2008. Lintograph.

The museum had planned for participants to look at these three works of art for 10 minutes each, then meet to discuss the experience for 45 minutes together with a docent. However, circumstances caused them to quickly change their strategy.

First, many of the volunteer docents decided to self-isolate due to the pandemic, so at the last minute Jill Carlson, Marketing & Communications Manager, and her partner decided to lead the event. Fortunately, Carlson had previously participated in a Slow Art Day at BOZAR in Brussels a few years ago. That experience had inspired her to design the event at AKMA and made it easier for her to jump in and host the day.

It also likely made it easier for her to contend with the second change: a group of prom-going teenagers and their families showed up. For this tuxedo- and ballgown-clad audience, Carlson redesigned Slow Art Day on the fly and ended up giving brief information and suggestions for slow looking in front of each artwork. And the teenagers loved it (and we know how hard it can be to engage teenagers).

We’ll also note that Carlson and her team did a good job marketing Slow Art Day. In addition to the museum’s calendar of events, they advertised on their Facebook and Instagram pages and generated coverage in two local news outlets – The Savannah Reporter and Flatland (perhaps this is how the prom goers ended up coming).

They also created a simple brochure directing participants to the three artworks (see below).

AKMA’s advertisment of the Slow Art Day event


At Slow Art Day HQ we are really impressed with Carlson and her team’s commitment to Slow Art Day and to pivoting quickly at the last moment.

We look forward to what they come up with for Slow Art Day in 2022.

– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

Northern Lights Gallery Hosts First Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day, the Northern Lights Gallery (located in Melfort, Canada, which is north-east Saskatchewan), invited visitors to try slow looking with artworks by five local artists: Linsey Levendal, Monica Daschuk, Al Jardine, Beth Bentz and Jim Mason.

Below are several photos of the artworks, plus information on their slow looking prompts and brochure.

Linsey Levendal, Carla. 2021.
11.5 x 15.5 cm. Pencil on Paper.
Jim Mason, Jade. 2021. Mixed Media-Wood, metal, Acrylic.

Visitors were given a brochure with some information about the five artworks, and prompts to use for observation and discussion:

  • Which artist captured your attention first and why?
  • How does _____ (your choice) piece compare with your preferred style of art?
  • If you could bring one piece from today home with you, which one would it be and why?
  • What medium do you prefer – acrylic, watercolor, ink, pencil…Something else?
  • Do you like 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional pieces better?
  • When you stop and look at a piece for 5-10 minutes do you think you see things in it you otherwise might not have?
  • How much art do you have in your home? What pieces have special meaning?

Families who attended were especially encouraged to discuss how art is an important part of everyday life with their children.

Below is the brochure that the Gallery created:

Northern Lights Gallery’s Slow Art Day brochure

The event was well received, and there was a steady stream of people during the day. Two of the artists, Al Jardine and Jim Mason, also attended and engaged in discussions with participants.

To view all the art on display at the Gallery, visit their website or Facebook Page.

Sandra Dancey, owner of the Northern Lights Gallery, said that Slow Art Day was really well received, especially now during the pandemic.

“Given the current state of the world I think most people need to know they aren’t alone, and they appreciate the opportunity to look at art and talk with each other”.

Sandra Dancey

At Slow Art Day HQ, we couldn’t agree more.

We believe slow looking provides a great opportunity for people to enjoy art and each other on a deeper level — and experience that we are not alone.

We look forward to seeing what Northern Lights Gallery prepare for their second Slow Art Day in 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl


BYU’s First Slow Art Day

On April 10, the Brigham Young University Museum of Art (BYU) in Provo, Utah, welcomed visitors to their first Slow Art Day event, which was in-person. Visitors were welcomed by a student educator at the front desk, who invited them to try the four slow looking strategies outlined in the below brochure. Participants were given suggestions for art to use for the exercise, but were free to apply the strategies to any work of art on display.

Brigham Young University Museum of Art Slow Art Day brochure.

Below we have summarized their four key instructions (to see the full details, look at the picture of the brochure above):

  1. Look BIG: casting a wide net can yield a range of observations and reveal the complexity of things. How? Explore and discover everything, everywhere in any given work of art!
  2. Narrow your focus: organizing your viewing strategy gives structure to the museum experience and helps you focus on something specific. How? Select an artwork and focus on certain types of things, such as colors, shapes, lines, faces, hands, trees, or anything that interests you.
  3. Change your perspective: this technique can lead the discovery of small details and large patterns. How? Alter your physical distance to the artwork, as well as your angle and perspective.
  4. Contrast & Compare: noticing similarities and differences (some of which may be intended by curators) can enrich your insights. How? Compare and contrast two neighboring artworks and describe your observations.

The event was advertised via an in-house digital banner, printed signage, social media coverage on Facebook and Instagram, and a feature in the on-campus digital newsletter. A total of 116 visitors participated in the activity throughout the day.

The Museum already has a Slow Looking Gallery Guide based on Shari Tishman’s 2018 book “Slow Looking”, which features Slow Art Day and inspired BYU’s event brochure (Note: we are planning a webinar with Shari Tischman for the fall of 2021).

Below are several photos from their event.

Participants engaging with art following the four slow looking strategies.

Visitors arriving at the front desk of the Museum

Philipp Malzl, Museum Educator, said that many visitors later shared their experience and insights with Museum staff. As a “thank you” gesture for sharing their feedback, the Museum gave participants a small gift (either a magnifying glass, art print, or museum pin).

Student educator at the front desk of the Museum hands a Slow Art Day participant a gift

They received a lot of great feedback (below are some highlights):

“I had no idea there was so much to see!”

Participant’s quote

“That was awesome! A whole new perspective.”

Participant’s quote

“I have [one of these paintings] hanging in my office, but I’ve never taken the time to really look at the details. I’m an art guy… this was different, and I loved it.”

Participant’s quote

“Usually we try to see everything in a museum, but today we didn’t. We really loved slowing down and paying more attention to the details.”

Participant’s quote

“We’ve been participating in this for years…we love slow art!”

Participant’s quote

At Slow Art HQ, we are excited that more than 100 participants took part in Brigham Young University Museum’s inaugural Slow Art Day. We loved their detailed four-step brochure, and their *thank-you* gifts. They did an amazing job of creating a welcoming environment.

We look forward to seeing their plans for Slow Art Day 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, and Ashley

A “Light Bulb” Moment at McMaster Museum of Art

For their 8th Slow Art Day, the McMaster Museum of Art in Hamilton (ON), Canada, hosted a slow looking Zoom session led by McMaster BFA students Donna Nadeem, Julianna Biernacki and Jill Letten, and it focused on their own work and on art by John Hartman, a McMaster alumni.

John Hartman, O’Donnel Point, 1993, Oil on linen. Gift of the artist © John Hartman

On April 10, participants were invited to look slowly at the painting by John Hartman, followed by discussion. Donna, Julianna and Jill, graduating BFA students, also showed and discussed their own work, part of the McMaster Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition for graduating students: QUIXOTIC. Meaning “all that is deemed idealistic, starry-eyed and impractical”, the word ‘quixotic’ inspired all pieces in the exhibition (Curator’s Statement by Alexis Moline).

The event was well received, with the Instagram post being liked 70+ times. Participants also left glowing feedback:

“I’m so thrilled to look at more than just the subjects and colors. I’ve never been good at interpretation but this has been the light bulb moment I was looking for.” 

Participant feedback

We love this quote, and hear this all the time from Slow Art Day attendees — simply slowing down to look creates “light bulb” moments.

You can find out more about the QUIXOTIC exhibition on the Museum’s Instagram. Their Facebook and Twitter pages are also great places to find out more about its collections and events.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we want to thank the McMaster Museum for the long-time leadership they have provided to the Slow Art Day movement, including this year’s creative design, featuring work by former and current students at the University.

We are already excited about seeing what they come up with for 2022.

-Johanna, Jessica, Ashley

5-in-1 at Albany Institute’s First Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day, the Albany Institute of History and Art in Albany, NY, hosted five interconnected virtual events:

  • Social media slow looking activity
  • Word clouds from the virtual activity
  • Slow panning video
  • Wellness workshop
  • A “look & learn” for families

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.

Slow looking video of Alice Morgan Wright, ‘The Fist’, 1921. Video produced by The Albany Insitute of History and Art.

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.

– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley

What’s in a Name? Titles and Emotions at MART

On April 10th, the Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto (MART) in Rovereto, Italy, organized a virtual Slow Art Day event that focused on re-titling artworks based on participants’ emotional experiences of slow looking.

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?”.

Arnulf Rainer, Splitter, 1971
Pastel and oil on photography, cm 60,5 x 50,5, Mart
Titles assigned to the artwork by the participants.

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!”

Participant Quote

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.

– Johanna, Jessica and Ashley

Rubens for Lent at Sint-Pauluskerk

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).

The nave, or central part, of Sint-Pauluskerk

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.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Flagellation of Christ, 17th century. Sint-Pauluskerk, Antwerp.

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.

– Johanna and Ashley

Van Gogh in Mississippi for Slow Art Day 2020

For their second Slow Art Day, the Mississippi Museum of Art shared a slow-panning video of Vincent van Gogh’s “Daisies, Arles” (1888).

The video featured close-ups of the painting alongside commentary by Victoria Meek, Associate Curator for Family and Studio Programs. The painting is her favorite artwork from the Mississippi Museum of Art exhibition “Van Gogh, Monet, Degas and Their Times,” which was postponed due to the pandemic.

Title: Art Moment | Vincent van Gogh’s “Daisies, Arles,” 1888.
Artwork: Oil on canvas, 13 x 16 1/2 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 2014.207. Copyright Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Photo: Travis Fullerton

McKenzie Drake, Assistant Curator of Public Programs and Community Engagement, said that the video was well-received across social media, with 830+ views and likes on Instagram and Facebook.

One person posted a picture of roses as a thematic connection, and others praised our education staff for providing insightful interpretation of the work. We were pleased to have produced something that could allow our audience to take a closer look at one of the iconic works on view.

McKenzie Drake, Assistant Curator of Public Programs and Community Engagement

Following the positive feedback on the video, the Museum created a new “Mindful Art Moment” video series on their Facebook page, encouraging viewers to think differently about what they see in works of art.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we are excited to see the Museum build new programs based on the success of its Slow Art Day initiative. This is core to our mission: use the annual event to encourage museums to adopt year-round programming.

We look forward to seeing what the Mississippi Museum of Art has in store for Slow Art Day 2021.

– Johanna and Ashley

‘The Approaching Storm’ with The Norton Simon

For their fifth Slow Art Day, The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA, invited the public via Instagram to look slowly at Narcisse-Virgile Diaz de la Peña’s ‘The Approaching Storm.’

The event was inspired by the Norton Simon’s regular Mindful Looking sessions, where visitors focus on looking at one artwork for one hour.

Narcisse-Virgile Diaz de la Peña (French, 1807-1876), The Approaching Storm, 1870, oil on canvas, The Norton Simon Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon.

Viewers were guided by two prompts:

  • Step inside this scene and sit under the light.
  • How does it feel? In times of uneasiness, where do you find light⁣⁣?

We’d also like to note that the museum provided an unusually good description of the artwork – not filled with jargon but instead with accessible, compelling, and even poetic words.

⁣”In the midst of an approaching storm, a beacon of light shines down through a gunmetal sky onto a rocky landscape. A lone woman by the rocks nestled in the middle of the scene reminds us that we are part of this earth. At right, a tree is bent and blasted but does not break.”⁣⁣

Description of ‘The Approaching Storm’, The Norton Simon Museum, Slow Art Day 2020.

Mariko Tu, Manager of Youth and Family Programs at the Norton Simon Museum, said that slow-looking visitors loved the experience and the post was liked 600+ times.

The Slow Art Day HQ team also participated. We imagined ourselves in this scene; felt the soft warmth of the light, and really immersed ourselves in the calm before the storm. Although the lone woman in the painting seemed small, we came to believe that she is filled with strength and courage from the light despite the dark skies.

We look forward to whatever The Norton Simon Museum comes up with for Slow Art Day 2021.

– Johanna and Ashley

Impressionist Interiors at The Bendigo Art Gallery

Art by Australian Impressionist Bessie Davidson was at the heart of the third Slow Art Day hosted this year by The Bendigo Art Gallery in Victoria, Australia.

On April 4, slow-panned videos of three paintings from the exhibition ‘Bessie Davidson & Sally Smart – Two artists and the Parisian avant-garde’ were shared on the gallery’s website (still images below):

  • Lecture au jardin (reading in the garden), 1930s.
  • Fillette au perrouquet (Little girl with parrot), 1913.
  • An interior, c. 1920.
Bessie Davidson, Lecture au jardin (reading in the garden), 1930s, oil on plywood 94 x 114 cm. Collection of Max Tegel, New South Wales.
Bessie Davidson, Fillette au perrouquet (Little girl with parrot), 1913, oil on canvas 92 x 73 cm.
Collection of Carmel Dyer and Allen Hunter. Image courtesy of Bonhams.
Bessie Davidson, An interior, c. 1920, oil on composition board  73.1 x 59.7 cm.
Gift of Mrs C Glanville, 1968, Art Gallery of South Australia.

Staggered images of the paintings were also shared on the gallery’s Facebook page via three posts before, during and after April 4th. Participants were invited to respond by posting comments, thoughts and images of their own works inspired by the slow-looking.

Each Facebook post got more likes than the previous, with the last post receiving 1.2k likes. Several people also sent in beautiful paintings of their own children and interiors.

Suzie Luke, Public Programs and Learning Officer at the Bendigo Art Gallery, said that many participants had “tremendously positive feedback” about the artist, artworks and the gallery itself:

Love that you’re doing this. This is the sort of thing I need to lift my spirits, just like every visit to your gallery has always done. Thank you!

This idea is so great, please keep doing it even when the emergency is over.

Jan Deane; Papageno Ragdoll

Slow Art Day at Bendigo Art Gallery usually consists of slow-looking guided tours by their wonderful volunteers, followed by discussions of the paintings and afternoon tea. This year, it has been inspiring to see the gallery make such a beautiful transition to virtual platforms.

We hope that The Bendigo Art Gallery will host another innovative Slow Art Day in 2021.

– Johanna and Ashley