The Importance of Friends: Slow Art with Sørlandets Kunstmuseum

For their second Slow Art Day, Sørlandets Kunstmuseum in Kristiansand, Norway, hosted a live slow looking event on Facebook, featuring Else Hagen’s artwork named Veninner (in English: ‘female friends’, alt. ‘girlfriends’).

Else Hagen. Venninner, unknown date.
Oil on canvas, 60 x 49,5 cm.
AKO Kunststiftelse/Tangen-samlingen.
©Else Hagen/BONO 2021

On April 10, participants could tune in to the live 30 minute event on the museum’s Facebook page. The session was facilitated by Hanne Aamodt and Karoline Skomedal, respectively head tourguide and tourguide at the museum.

Participants were given an introduction to Slow Art Day, and then invited to observe the painting for seven minutes, using automatic writing as a slow looking tool (automatic writing means writing down words that come to mind without thinking about it). Afterwards, the facilitators shared some of their own thoughts and gave participants a set of prompts to use while studying the painting for seven *more* minutes.

The prompts included:

  • What shapes, colors and materials do you see?
  • What details do you notice?
  • What is going on in the painting?
  • Does the artwork remind you of something from your own life?
  • If you were at the place depicted in the artwork, what sounds would you hear? What surfaces, smells and temperatures would you feel?

The event was well received, and participants left comments like this after the live session:

“This was a great experience! I recommend it 🧡 Thank you very much!”

Participant’s quote on Facebook

The session was recorded and shared to YouTube. The video is included below for you to watch.

Slow Art Day 2021: Dypdykk i maleriet “Venninner” av Else Hagen. Video produced by Sørlandets Kunstmuseum.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the subject of this painting. Friends supporting each other is obviously a relevant theme during the ongoing pandemic, and we appreciate the warmth of this artwork.

If you would like to see more from Sørlandets Kunstmuseum, you can find them on their Facebook and Instagram pages.

We look forward to seeing what the Sørlandets Kunstmuseum has in store for Slow Art Day 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

Spring in the Air at Frye Art Museum

For their fourth Slow Art Day, the Frye Art Museum, in Seattle, Washington, partnered with King County Library System and invited participants to a virtual artwork discussion on the theme of spring.

Visitors at Frye’s museum. Photo credit: Devon Simpson

The session was led by Caroline Byrd, Education Coordinator at the Frye Museum. Visitors joining the event on April 10 were invited to focus on two artworks:

  • An untitled oil painting by Norwegian artist Hans Dahl (1849-1937)
  • Clouds and Windblown Hay by Charles Burchfield (1863-1967).

You can view videos featuring discussion of both artworks on the Museum’s Frye From Home blog:

Hans Dahl. Untitled. 1883-1915. Oil on canvas. 65.41 x 49.53 cm. Photo Credit: Mark Woods. Courtesy of Frye Art Museum
Charles Burchfield. Clouds and Windblown Hay. 1954-64. Watercolor on paper.101.6 x 76.2 cm.
Photo Credit: Jueqian Fang. Courtesy of Frye Art Museum

The theme of spring was highlighted in two senses: through the season itself, portrayed in the paintings, and the concept of fresh beginnings.

Combining prompts for close looking and conversation, the discussion was designed to create a personal connection with the artworks while building a community among participants. Using the prompts, participants uncovered visual clues and provided their own ideas and insights to the discussion. Those that did not feel comfortable joining the group discussion were encouraged to write down or sketch their responses.

Participants were invited to continue exploring the artworks by visiting the Frye’s online collection database or by diving into a reading list provided by the King County Library System.

The event was attended by 25 participants, ranging in age from teens to older adults. Their feedback was positive.

The class was interesting and enriching. It challenged me to look at the art in different ways. Appreciated the opportunity for people to share their thoughts and observations. What a great mental and visual break!! Thank you!” –

Program Participant

Caroline Byrd also found the event rewarding. We include her reflection on the event below.

Even I, as the facilitator, found new perspectives I had never thought about before! Thank you, as always, for allowing the Frye to be part of global Slow Art Day! Especially in these uncertain times, we look forward to the opportunity to slow down, look closely, and spend some time with a work of art.

Caroline Byrd, Education Coordinator, Frye Art Museum

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the enthusiasm for slow looking that shows in every aspect of the event organized by Caroline Byrd. We want to thank Caroline and the Frye for being once again part of our global event and we are already excited about seeing what they come up with for 2022.

-Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

National Gallery Singapore Fuses Mindfulness and Slow Looking

For their first Slow Art Day, the National Gallery Singapore, in Singapore, invited participants to join one of two events hosted by the Gallery:

Slow Art Online: a virtual 60-minute slow-looking program

Slow Art Plus: an in-person 90-minute slow-looking and mindfulness program

The Slow Art Online virtual program featured slow-looking exercises followed by discussions, facilitated by the Gallery’s docents. Started during the pandemic, this program has become so popular that it is now a regular part of the Gallery’s calendar throughout the year. For details about future sessions, reach out to community@nationalgallery.sg.

For the Slow Art Plus in-person event, visitors participated in mindfulness exercises and were invited to look slowly at a selection of artworks, including Georgette Chen’s Lotus In A Breeze (1970).

Participants engaged with artworks at Slow Art Plus.

Dr. Mabel Yap, a trained mindfulness practitioner, guided participants through mindfulness exercises that she designed to engage the senses. This was followed by a group discussion about the intersection between visual art and emotional wellness in modern Southeast Asian art. The way the mindfulness exercises slowed down the participants and helped them connect to the art explains why this approach has deservedly become a big part of Slow Art Day events around the world.

Participants taking part in mindful exercises during Slow Art Plus.
Participants involved in group dialogue at Slow Art Plus.

Interested participants snapped up free tickets to both programs rapidly, and people both new and familiar with the Gallery had positive feedback.

 “I didn’t realise how much we can observe and gain from art by being mindful. I liked that the various exercises helped to guide us and provided variety.”

Participant’s quote

“(I really enjoyed) viewing the art piece at length and noticing more details… and hearing others’ perspectives how the paintings were relevant to their experience.”

Participant’s quote

 “Fusing the concepts of mindfulness and art! Wonderful exercises with the facilitator. Very interactive.”

Participant’s quote

 “(I really enjoyed) how I’m stretched to think and look at the art piece in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Participant’s quote

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that the National Gallery Singapore has decided to produce ongoing virtual sessions. Our mission from day one has been to use the annual event as a way to inspire regular slow looking activities throughout the year.

We were also glad to see yet another museum integrate mindfulness into their Slow Art Day.

We look forward to what the National Gallery Singapore come up with next year.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl.

P.S. You can check out the Facebook and Instagram page of National Gallery Singapore for more information about upcoming events.

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

Relax and Re-energize: Slow Art Day at Galleria l’Arte di Seta

For their first Slow Art Day, the Galleria l’Arte di Seta, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, organized a mindful Zoom session on April 10, featuring three different paintings:

  • Camille Pissarro. A Creek in St. Thomas (Virgin Islands), 1856.
  • Auguste Renoir , Jeune Espagnole jouant de la guitare, 1898.
  • Vasily Kandinsky, Composition 8 (Komposition 8), 1923.
Camille Pissarro. A Creek in St. Thomas (Virgin Islands), 1856.
Oil on academy board, 24.5 x 32.2 cm, Courtesy of National Gallery, Washington.
Auguste Renoir , Jeune Espagnole jouant de la guitare, 1898.
Oil on canvas, 55.6 x 65.2 cm. Courtesy of National Gallery Washington
Vasily Kandinsky, Composition 8 (Komposition 8), 1923.
Oil on canvas, 140.3 x 200.7 cm. Courtesy of Guggenheim Museum.

Participants joined the two-hour Zoom session, which included 10 minute observation of each of the three paintings, followed by discussion.

Lidija Drobež, founder of Galleria l’Arte di Seta, was positively surprised by the enthusiasm and depth of insight from the participants. In fact, to foster even deeper discussion, she said the gallery might focus on one or two pieces of art next year.

Several participants left wonderful feedback.

“When I heard the title of event I was sceptical. After the session I can say that it was not only relaxing and reenergising but it gave me a lot of insights about myself.”

Ana Tijssen – Slow Art Day participant

“I joined the session out of simple curiosity. For the first time in my life I took more time to view a painting: I discovered things which took me by surprise. What I take out of whole event, is how diverse insights participants obtained and yet our conversation was open and positive all the time.”

Monika K. – Slow Art Day participant

“The more I was focusing on the paintings, the more it made me realise how everything is connected in life. For example – much more than being fond of traveling, I am fond of living in foreign countries and during the Slow Art Day session I realised why. When I allowed myself to stop and take time to be with the painting it was only then when I could feel a deeper connection and a sense of familiarity. It is the same with foreign countries – traveling through them seems like rushing through the gallery from one famous painting to another – the experience may appear fleeting and empty. Living in a foreign country, on the contrary, is like taking time to get to know the “painting” in depth, which feels meaningful and enriching.”

Anja Humljan – Slow Art Day participant

“I really appreciated the event, because it created the possibility of valuing different ways of seeing. One was to connect with myself and rediscover the joy of personal discovery almost like a child. And, of course, last but not least, I really enjoyed the insights and comments of other participants.”

Nenad Filipovic – Slow Art Day participant

Due to the enthusiastic response to the event by participants, the Gallery plans to organize an in-person event later this year once they can re-open. Visit their Instagram account to stay updated with their work.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the passion for slow looking that Lidija Drobež and her participants show. We must admit that our original design for Slow Art Day was to have participants look for one hour at one painting, but we decided that might be too intimidating. Yet, we still know the power of even slower looking, and are thus excited to see what Lidija Drobež comes up with for 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley

Two Resurrections: Slow Art Day at Sint-Pauluskerk

Sint-Pauluskerk in Antwerp, Belgium, hosted its fourth Slow Art Day event with a focus on the theme of “Resurrection”.

The event featured a comparison between the “Resurrection of Christ” by Aenout Vickenborgh, and Peter Paul Rubens’s painting with the same title, both of which are on display in the church.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Resurrection of Christ, 1611-1612.
Oil on panel, 138 x 98 cm.
Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp.
Aernout Vinckenborgh, Resurrection of Christ, 1615-1620.
Oil on panel, 223 x 166 cm.
Courtesy of Saint Paul’s church, Antwerp.

On April 10, church visitors were invited to participate in a guided 45-minute session to view the paintings. The session featured slow looking, which was followed by discussion and detailed comparisons of the paintings by the guides. Due to continued pandemic restrictions, sessions were capped at 10 visitors per group, with only 15 people allowed in the church at the same time.

The church also created a short documentary for those who could not come in person. This was shared via email to their 1,500 subscribers. The documentary was also shared to the church’s Facebook page.

Below is a link to the video, but keep in mind that it is available only in Dutch.

Armand Storck, scriptor for Sint-Pauluskerk, hopes that their planned video production for Slow Art Day 2022 will include English subtitles to reach an international audience.

“Der Verrijzenis” (in English “The Resurrections”) created by Sint-Pauluskerk, 2021.

The in-person event was attended by 45 people in total, and the documentary video has been viewed by 2,500 people via Facebook and YouTube combined. Viewers of the video responded positively.

“Nicely presented, informative, pleasant. Thanks to the volunteers and to Armand for the introduction.”

“Incredibly beautiful, congratulations to the whole team!”

Participant responses to the “Der Verrijizenis” video on Facebook (translated from Dutch).

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that Sint-Pauluskerk opens its doors for Slow Art Day with a theme that fits the church calendar. The alignment of slow looking exercises with the reflective period of lent works beautifully. We hope that more churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious organizations are inspired by their approach.

We look forward to another event from Sint-pauluskerk in 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, and 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