Our 2021 report is now available for you to review.
Read it and get inspired by your fellow slow-art-loving educators, curators, and artists.
As of 2021, Slow Art Day events have been held in more than 1,500 museums around the world.
Yet, we continued our second decade during the second year of the pandemic with many museums and galleries still closed in spring of 2021.
Despite the closures, 110 organizations registered for Slow Art Day 2021, and we received 37 reports, which we catalog in this annual report as a way to encourage sharing of best practices among our global community.
So, take a look and get inspired as you design your 2022 slow looking sessions.
And thank you for helping us grow in our second decade (2021 was our 12th year!) – and for all you do to remind the world of the power of art to bring all of us together as humans deserving of respect and inclusion.
Ashley, Erica, Jessica Jane, Johanna, Maggie, Phyl, and Richard
P.S. We are thinking now especially of our Ukrainian colleagues (several Ukrainian museums registered for Slow Art Day again this year). We cannot imagine what they are going through.
We are excited to announce that our Slow Art Day 2021 Annual Report, which details the hard work and creativity of educators, curators, artists, and docents from around the world, will be published next week.
For those of you designing Slow Art Day 2022 events, this report will inspire and guide you in the design of your slow looking events.
In the meantime, you can also read our 2020 and 2019 annual reports, which are also chock full of good ideas for running Slow Art Day events.
And if you have not yet registered your museum or gallery for 2022, then please sign up.
– Ashley, Jessica Jane, Johanna, Maggie, and Phyl
P.S. 73 museums and galleries have already registered for 2022 including the Olena Kulchytska Art and Memorial Museum in Lviv, Ukraine, The Met Cloisters in New York, the National Gallery of Singapore, the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and many, many others (see the full list).
To celebrate Slow Art Day 2021 when museums were locked down in England, artist Jo Essen, based in Birmingham, UK, organized a slow looking bike ride to Sarehole Mill.
The historical mill, today a museum and bakery, is well-known for its connection with J. R. R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He once lived across the road from the Mill, and it inspired his writings about Middle-earth.
Essen shared an online video from the bike ride, and encouraged others in the pandemic lockdown to get out and do some slow looking. “It was wonderful to be involved in slow looking even when we were not able to visit museums,” said Jo Essen.
So, while the British Museum, Tate Modern, the Norton Simon Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, and many other large museums ran virtual (or in-person events), and while a number of smaller museums and galleries also ran Slow Art Day sessions, 2021 also included Jo Essen and her family looking slowly at nature and architecture.
This report is a fitting final post for 2021, especially as we and the world struggle through yet another wave of the coronavirus. (Note: you can read all of our 2021 published reports, or wait for our 2021 annual report to be published in February of 2022.)
We hope you have a wonderful new year wherever you are in the world. And perhaps take some inspiration from Essen and go out and do some slow looking at nature, architecture, public art, or in museums and galleries, if they are open in your area.
Stay safe and healthy and get ready for yet another year of building the slow looking movement.
For their first Slow Art Day, the gallery ARTualize in Singapore, Singapore, organized a Mindfulness with Paintings session, encouraging participants to combine mindfulness with slow looking.
On the 10th of April, ARTualize opened their two-hour session by introducing participants to some mindfulness techniques. Participants were then invited to look slowly and mindfully at selected paintings, including Low Hai Hong’s 海天一色 (literally: Sky and Sea). This was followed by discussion.
The gallery also hosts regular ‘Mindfulness with paintings’ sessions to get more people to discover the joy of looking at art. Sessions are held every Sunday from 2 to 4 pm.
Paintings on display in the gallery are also available for rent to give people the opportunity to experience the art in their own homes. Exhibited works are changed every two months. Click here to learn more.
At Slow Art Day HQ, our mission since 2010 has been to build a slow looking and mindfulness movement around the world. As a result, one of our goals has been to use the annual event to inspire museums and galleries to host regular slow looking sessions throughout the year.
We are happy to see that ARTualize are both participants and leaders in this movement and look forward to whatever they come up with for Slow Art Day 2022.
Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl
P.S. If you would like to follow ARTualize’s updates, you can follow them on their Facebook page.
For their first Slow Art Day, the British Museum, in London, UK, collaborated with the Can Do Project, a skills-development programme for people aged 16-35 with a disability or long-term health condition, run by the resendential care company Leonard Cheshire.
The week-long Zoom-based slow looking program was initiated by the British Museum’s Volunteer Coordinator for Access, Equality and Young People, Jessica Starns, along with Leonard Cheshire’s Programme Coordinator, Deborah Sciortino.
During sessions, participants were invited to take a long look at objects from the museum collection, and observe their shapes, contours and colors. These ‘Can Doers’ then gave their opinion on what they believed the objects were used for. Afterwards, a brief history about the object was shared by a facilitator to spark further discussion. In the final session, participants were asked to choose their favorite object and create a short presentation about it. Alongside looking at objects slowly, topics such as equality and diversity, employability skills, helping visitors to make sense of their visit to the museum, and online safety on social media were covered with help from the Leonard Cheshire Marketing Team.
On April 10, 2021, the events culminated with a presentation of the participants’ favorite objects in collaboration with the Keiken Collective, which worked with the group to develop object reveal Instagram filters and create digital postcards using 3D scanned museum objects on the 3D & AR platform Sketchfab. The collective took inspiration from the fact that the British Museum has been selling postcards for over one hundred years. The presentations were pre-recorded at home by participants, then played for the group in the live session.
Thomas Winter, the Digital Marketing Volunteer at Leonard Cheshire, wrote a blog post about the events that is worth reading.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we are excited that the British Museum, together with the Can Do Project and the Keiken Collective, designed such an inclusive Slow Art Day event. It inspires all of us when educators and organizations collaborate to design new kinds of slow looking experiences.
We look forward to seeing what the British Museum comes up with for Slow Art Day in 2022 (and would love to see another collaboration).
Jessica, Johanna, Ashley, and Phyl
P.S. The British museum has an extensive volunteer programme which you can view here.
For their first Slow Art Day, Casa Regis, a non-profit association and centre for culture and contemporary art in Valdilana, Italy, featured local artists in a video and social-media-based event.
On April 10, 2021, art photographer and founder of Casa Regis, Mikelle Standbridge, uploaded a series of short videos of different artistic installations on the organization’s Instagram page.
The videos featured a soundscape of birds chirping, as Mikelle briefly introduces works by local artists Sissi Castellano, Daniele Basso, Carla Crosio, Michela Cavagna and herself. Note: the artists were selected and chosen in part because of the interesting juxtaposition of their work against the backdrop of the eighteenth-century building in which Casa Regis is located.
Below you can find pictures of the featured installations, links to the videos, and a brief description of each.
Sissi Castellano‘s silkworm cocoon installation entitled‘ ‘I AM NOT AN ARTIST‘, is based on the Japanese Mingei philosophy of objects, which the artist follows. The Mingei approach simulatenaously focuses on the function and aesthetic value of common household objects.
You can view the installation and the above video here.
Sculptor and artist Daniele Basso‘s ‘Hawk’, which comes from a series called Frames, is a stainless steel and white bronze sculpture. The artist plays with effects of mirroring, showing the complexity and the different levels of reality.
You can find a brief explanation and watch above video here.
Artist Carla Crosio‘s installation, entitled Cancer, is made of of marble, bronze and glass and it takes inspiration from her personal life.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the use of video for creating slow looking environments. We recommend that our museum educator and curator friends around the world watch some of the short videos that Mikelle created.
We are also happy to report that their inaugural event was so successful that they then planned in-person Slow Art day events for the rest of 2021. Excellent!
We look forward to whatever Casa Regis comes up with for Slow Art Day 2022.
Jessica, Johanna, Ashley, and Phyl
PS: A press release of the event is available in Italian here.
For their 6th Slow Art Day, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, designed a virtual slow looking event focused on the Russian painter Vassily Kandinsky’s painting Heavy Circles.
On April 10, 2021, the museum posted Kandinsky’s artwork along with slow looking prompts to their Instagram page. Viewers were invited to focus on an area of the painting that drew their eye, then turn their attention to how this area relates to the surrounding sections. Then visitors were asked to consider the entire painting, contemplating how the different parts relate to each other.
The post was a great success, and was liked 1,087 times.
Mariko Tu, who has been the Manager of Youth and Family Programs at the Norton Simon for the last seven years, let us know that this is her last year at the museum.
We want to take a moment to thank Mariko for her longtime leadership in the Slow Art Day movement. We love the slow looking events Mariko has designed over the years and look forward to doing some slow looking with her wherever she goes from here (see her great 2020 session design here).
In the meantime, we look forward to what the Norton Simon creates next year for Slow Art Day 2022.
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.”
“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
PS. For further information on the museum’s events you can follow their social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
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
PS. You can find out more about the Art Gallery of St. Albert here, on their IG, or Facebook Page.
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.
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.
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.
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.