Slow Art Day in Köping, Sweden

For their second Slow Art Day, Köpings Museum in Sweden organized both an in-person as well as an online slow-looking event. Additionally, this year the local library in Köping participated in Slow Art Day by borrowing a painting from the museum to use for slow looking.

Visitors to Köpings Museum were invited to join a slow-looking guided tour in the exhibit “A picture – a story” (“En bild – en historia”) by Ulf Rehnholm and Inger Holmberg.

Exhibition poster for the exhibition “A Picture – A History”

Visitors were also offered the below slow-looking instructions (in Swedish) for a self-guided option, as well as paper binoculars to help focus on details in the art.

The museum also offered an online slow-looking alternative through their Facebook page, where they shared instructions and the below photo of “Solar Altar” by Lars Lindeberg from the museum’s collection.

“Solar Altar” by Lars Lindeberg (1925-2011). Color lithograph, 1999. The artwork belongs to Köping municipality’s art collection. The image was used for Köpings Museum’s digital Slow Art Day event.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love seeing the library and museum work together – this is a great partnership that should inspire other museums around the world to work with their local libraries. Perhaps next year we will see more such partnerships develop.

In the meantime, we look forward to what Köpings Museum and the Köping Library come up with for 2025.

-Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

P.S. Stay up to date with future events at Köpings museum via their Facebook page

P.P.S. There is no possessive apostrophe in Swedish – so Köpings Museum is written without that apostrophe (in English it would be Köping’s Museum).

Tea, Biscuits, and Year-Round Slow Looking

This year Galleri Pictor and Munka folkhogskola (a Swedish folk high school and adult education center) hosted Slow Art events several times during the year: once in April for Slow Art Day, and three times during the summer for art students taking summer courses at the center. The slow looking sessions all took place at Galleri Pictor and each session focused on a single artwork – Clara Lundgren’s “Det var här” (“It was here”).

Clara Lundgren (undated). “Det var här” (It was here). Acrylic on canvas. 69×82 cm. This artwork was used for the slow looking sessions at Galleri Pictor.

Arriving participants were welcomed and given a worksheet (in Swedish) containing instructions for eye palming along with slow looking prompts.

These instructions have been translated into English below:

Materials: Artwork, Worksheets and Timer

1) Eye Palming is a technique to relax the muscles around the eyes. Warm your hands by rubbing them together for a few seconds. Close your eyes and press your palms lightly against your cheeks, then cup your fingers over your eyes and eyebrows. Breathe slowly and deeply for three minutes.

2) Open your eyes slowly and look at the artwork with the same focus you had on your breathing.
– What do you notice?
– What colors, compositions, shapes and materials do you see?
– Does the artwork remind you of an event in your life?
– Do you think others notice the same thing as you?

If your mind wanders, try to focus again on the image. Look at the artwork for 10 minutes.

3) Relax again. Take a few deep breaths and notice any further thoughts you have about the artwork.

4) Write down reflections on the worksheet. Do this for 10 minutes.

5) Finally, we reflect together on our experiences of the image and how it felt to do the activity.


During the slow looking session Charlotte Fällman Gleissner, art expert and teacher at Munka Folkhögskola, kept track of the time transitions using a timer.

For the closing group reflection, Galleri Pictor repeated their successful concept from last year of sharing tea and biscuits together while participants discussed their slow looking session. Some of the reflections from this section of the event are included on the Pictor Gallery blog (in Swedish).

We love the focus on a single art work (the original idea for Slow Art Day was to spend one hour with a single artwork).

We can’t wait to see what Galleri Pictor and Munka folkhögskola come up with for Slow Art Day 2024 – and throughout the year. We also hope that future events include tea and biscuits, especially if they save some for us!

– Johanna, Ashley, Phyl and Jessica Jane

Slow Art Week at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

For its 10th Slow Art Day, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington DC celebrated a week of events. And because the museum’s historic building was closed for a major renovation until October 2023, the April 2023 events were hosted virtually.

Alison Saar, Scorch Song, 2022; Wood, found mini skillets, nails, and tar, 34 x 11 x 9 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts; Museum Purchase: Funds provided by Steven Scott, Baltimore, in honor of the artist and the 35th Anniversary of the National Museum of Women in the Arts; © Alison Saar; Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA; Photo by Jeff McLane

For Slow Looking Week, the NMWA published a PDF with slow looking prompts and instructions, which is viewable below.

The theme for this year’s events was “A Growing Collection,” featuring recent acquisitions by the NMWA from 2021 and 2022. For the week, a selection of the artworks were uploaded to the NMWA’s Lightbox: 2023 Slow Art Day virtual art gallery. These could be viewed by participants in the week leading up to the 15th, when the NMWA hosted a Zoom meeting where all artworks could be discussed live.

Ahead of the Zoom meeting, all participants were encouraged to consider questions about the role of the art museum, including:

  • Which museum collection has spoken most to you? What about it resonated with you? Whose faces and voices were represented?
  • What should an art museum’s collection look like?
  • What do you want to see more of in art museums? Less of?

During the Zoom meeting, the group was divided into breakout rooms, in which each person was invited to select an image from the Lightbox options, and the whole group was asked to discuss using the Harvard Project Zero prompts See/Think/Wonder.

Following this, all groups came back together to share experiences of and reflect on process of looking together. Attendees called in from Canada, the United Kingdom, DC, FL, IL, MD, NJ, and NY. For 60% of the attendees, 2023 was their first Slow Art Day experience.

At the end of the Zoom event, participants were asked what they enjoyed the most about the slow looking experience. Here’s a selection of their answers:

  • “Hearing other people’s experiences and seeing more through their eyes.”
  • “Talking with just a few people at a time. I could talk a bit more than normal.”
  • “The shared experience; the opportunity to give over to LOOKING, observing, talking, and reflecting.”
  • “Breakout session, taking the time to understood what and why each of us chose specific artworks & how we all came with different background and observations.”

Everyone said that they would love to attend another Slow Art Day.

We at Slow Art Day are big fans of the NMWA – for many reasons including that they are real leaders in the global Slow Art Day movement. We hope more museums imitate their weeklong activities. And now that the NMWA has reopened, we look forward to what they come up with for Slow Art Day Week 2024.

– Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

Small Town Embraces Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day, Ellie Harold Studio and Gallery in Frankfort, Michigan, a small town of 1,500, hosted a slow looking event from 12 – 4 pm in her home-based venue. One of the things we love about Slow Art Day is that it happens in national museums, regional museums, movie theaters, and even local home-based galleries.

On April 15, Ellie Harold displayed a variety of paintings from her private collection, one large painting of her own, and a sculpture.

Photo courtesy of Carol Lautenbach.

Photo courtesy of Carol Lautenbach.

Photo courtesy of Carol Lautenbach.

Photo courtesy of Carol Lautenbach.

The whole town embraced this first Slow Art Day in Frankfort. Not only did a large group of people come out to view the Slow Art Day, but the local paper, Benzie County Record Patriot, also ran a substantial article.

For the event itself, the gallery handed each participant a sheet with suggestions for slow looking and a blank space and pen for writing down notes:

SUGGESTIONS FOR SLOW LOOKING

  • Gaze at a spot and let it reveal itself to you.
  • How do the colors make you feel?
  • Look at details.
  • Follow a path through the painting with your eyes.
  • Find different textures in the painting.
  • What comes forward and what recedes?
  • Does the painting take you up, down, or all around?
  • Look for rhythm or pattern.
  • Where in the painting do your eyes want to rest?
  • Does the painting have a message for you?
  • What else do you notice?

Most participants took 45 minutes to 1 hour to look at the pieces. Since the event took place in Ellie’s home, there was more artwork on display than what was selected specifically for the event, and some visitors chose to look slowly at those as well. During the event, Ellie walked around and discussed the experience with participants. She also later published a blog post: “Slow Art Day: Taking Time to Gaze.”

“Everyone reported having a positive experience and said that the exercise would change how they view art in museums going forward.”

Ellie Harold, Gallery and Studio owner

As we noted, we are always happy to see Slow Art Day being embraced by towns and institutions of all sizes and scale around the world. We welcome Ellie Harold Studio and Gallery to the Slow Art Day community, and look forward to their event next year, which will expand to include several artists.

-Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane, Phyl

Miniature Art Captivates at the Gardiner Museum

People often ask us: what’s the best kind of art for people to look at slowly? And before we answer, they often offer what they think must be true – i.e., that only *large* scale art can maintain the attention of slow lookers. Our answer, however, (based on experience) has been that everything works *including* small-scale art.

We are glad to say that The Gardiner Museum in Toronto, Canada proved once again that tiny art captivates.

For their fourth Slow Art Day, The Gardiner featured Montreal-based self-taught artist Karine Giboulo’s “immersive reimagining” of her home, with over 500 *miniature* polymer clay figures arranged throughout the tiny rooms. The small figures are intended to invite viewers to reflect on societal challenges, such as connectedness and isolation during the recent pandemic, the impact of aging, the climate crisis, food insecurity, housing instability, and consumerism. And they are indeed captivating.

Karine Giboulo: Housewarming, Installation view, 2022, Gardiner Museum, Toronto.

On Slow Art Day itself, participants were given a worksheet with questions that lead them through the process of slow looking, and included a space to sketch. They were then encouraged to speak with two members of the Gardiner Museum team: Sofia Flores-Ledesma, Programs and Education Assistant, and Emma Wan, Victoria College, Material Culture Intern.

We invite you to discover the power of slow looking at miniature art by downloading their worksheet below, then lazily gazing at the images from their exhibition that follow (and maybe trying a few sketches).

Karine Giboulo: Housewarming, Installation view, 2022, Gardiner Museum, Toronto.
Karine Giboulo: Housewarming, Installation view, 2022, Gardiner Museum, Toronto.
Karine Giboulo: Housewarming, Installation view, 2022, Gardiner Museum, Toronto.
Karine Giboulo: Housewarming, Installation view, 2022, Gardiner Museum, Toronto.

Sofia Flores-Ledesma wrote to us and said that not only did the miniatures dazzle, but that the conversations on the day of the event were so engaging that they did not take any photos as planned. They were just too busy listening to the captivated participants talk about their experience.

Every year, The Gardiner does something interesting for Slow Art Day, and we love what they did for 2023: i.e, featuring Giboulo’s miniature scenes of ordinary life, which offer hidden surprises (this is another pitch for you to download their worksheet and do some slow looking yourself).

We can’t wait to see what the Gardiner Museum comes up with for Slow Art Day 2024.

-Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane, and Phyl.

PS. Stay updated with events at the Gardiner Museum on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Slow Looking with Tea and Cookies at Sweden’s Galleri Pictor

For their first Slow Art Day, Galleri Pictor in Munka-Ljungby, Sweden, hosted an in-person slow looking event with visiting art students from Munka folkhögskola.

André Bongibolt, Les 1000 soleils entrevus (64 x 83 cm), mezzotint on paper. Read more.
Participants looking at the artwork by André Bongibolt. Photo courtsey of Galleri Pictor.

On Slow Art Day, the group gathered in a gallery and sat in a half circle in front of a picture by André Bongibolt. They started with relaxing their bodies and minds for a moment before looking slowly at the artwork. Participants were also given a document with slow looking instructions in Swedish, viewable below.

Following this, all participants wrote their thoughts and observations and shared them back with the group. To round off the event, participants reflected on their slow looking experience over a cup of tea and cookies (or ‘biscuits’ as they sometimes say in Europe).

Reflecting on the event, Charlotte Fällman Gleissner shared the following with us:

Even as a gallerist, I seldom give myself time to really see the artwork in a deeper sense – therefore this was a new experience for me too. Further, I now understand how flexible slow-looking is and how it can be used with different kinds of groups in a range of settings. This is wonderful. Thank You!

Charlotte Fällman Gleissner

We at Slow Art Day HQ are excited that Galleri Pictor has joined the slow art movement – and, in fact, we now believe that all slow looking events should end with tea and cookies. That is certainly a best practice!

– Johanna, Phyl, Ashley, Jessica and Robin

PS: Stay in touch with other events at Galleri Pictor via their Instagram

Holding Hands with St. Vincent de Paul in Melbourne, Australia

For their first Slow Art Day, Monique Silk and her colleagues at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, created a series of Slow Art Cards in sets of five so both patients and visitors could participate. The cards utilized three different art works from their art collection and a photo from their archives. On the back of the card, they included a series of instructions on ways to look at the art works slowly.

The prompts they used are:

  1. Look: Give yourself a few minutes to look all over the art work. Let your eyes wander to all corners of the image, top to bottom and left to right.
  2. Observe: Notice the colors, shapes, objects, textures and markings on the surface of the art work. Where do your eyes focus?
  3. Feel: What words come to mind about this art work? How do you feel looking at this art work? Does it remind you of anything?
  4. Share: Share your experience of looking at the artwork with someone and post an image of the work online with a word of reflection and hashtag #slowartday2022
Ben Quilty, Torana on Flinders, 2002, oil on canvas, photo courtesy of Monique Silk
St. Vincent’s Hospital Diet Kitchen c. 1952, Clinical Photography Department Collection, SVHM Archives, photo courtesy of Monique Silk
Sarah Metzner, Country Whispers to Us in Many Languages, 2021, oil paint and pastel on paper, photo courtesy of Monique Silk
Penny Long, Pathway, 2011, oil on canvas, photo courtesy of Monique Silk

Cards were distributed to various hospital departments to share with patients and visitors on Slow Art Day. The response from the staff to the cards was very positive.

Monique also a slow art activity in the hospital courtyard. This activity invited people to sit and slowly look at their statue of St Vincent de Paul. They even invited people to come and hold his hands and interact with the sculpture directly. While people were a bit shy when sitting with the sculpture, the hosts gave people space to interact without feeling as though they were being directly observed.

St. Vincent de Paul, by Australian sculptor Peter Corlett, photo courtesy of Monique Silk

One patient was wheeled out to the courtyard to be with the sculpture of St. Vincent and her caregiver said “this was the highlight of her day”. Another staff member said they had never noticed the sculpture before and thanked the hosts for giving them the opportunity to “feel” the presence of St. Vincent.

The pastoral care staff decided that the cards can be used on an ongoing basis and one chaplain said that:

“It’s a joy to offer the beautiful slow art cards to patients. There has been gratitude expressed from those who received your wonderful gifts. Such a great initiative!”

After the events, the hosts realized that they should have included a First Nations art work, which they plan to do for Slow Art Day 2023.

We at Slow Art Day are so happy that St. Vincent’s in Melbourne decided to celebrate Slow Art Day 2022 with patients and visitors. Perhaps, this is the beginning of a trend of many more hospitals around the world joining the slow looking movement, and bringing the power of learning to look at and love art to patients, visitors, and staff. This is a true Mitzvah.

– Robin, Ashley, Johanna, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

Slow Art Weekend with cARTie

cARTie, Connecticut’s Non-Profit Mobile Art Museum, held events throughout what they called Slow Art Weekend 2022.

cARTie invited viewers at each of their stops to choose two works of art and spend at least 5 minutes with each. Their free event provided prompts, art materials, and all-important cushions.

The artwork featured was created by Connecticut high school students and an impressive selection follows:

Utah Raptor, drawn sketch and graphic illustration completed during Covid-19, 2021, by Mark
Enough, mixed media self-portrait during Covid-19, 2021, by Nate
Shouting Stars, acrylic painting completed during Covid-19, 2021, by Jason

The event was featured on cARTie’s Instagram page and advertised with the below flyer:

cARTie flyer

In addition to this Slow Art Weekend, cARTie provides year-round museum field trips to elementary schools that have limited access to the arts. *All* of their field trips include slow art time with rich, facilitated discussion.

We love this program and their mission to bring art to schools that otherwise don’t have it. We also are impressed by the design of their mobile Slow Art Weekend including their decision to feature some terrific student art.

We very much look forward to seeing what design they come up with for Slow Art Day 2023.

– Robin, Ashley, Phyl, Jessica Jane, and Johanna

P.S. We’ve also asked them to provide an electronic copy of their brochure so we can share that with educators and curators around the world.

Slowing Down with Diné art at the Museum of Northern Arizona

For their fourth Slow Art Day, the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) in Arizona, USA, hosted a slow looking event in combination with the opening of a new exhibition, Náátsʼíilid / Rainbow Light, featuring art by Diné artist Baje Whitethorne Sr., who grew up on the Navajo Nation Reservation.

Baje Whitethorne Sr., 1985, Watercolor on paper, MNA#C2587. Image courtsey of the MNA.

Before the event, the museum posted a video to YouTube, where Alan Petersen, Curator of Fine Art, and Samantha Honanie, Bookstore & Publications Manager, introduced slow looking and Slow Art Day.

We highly recommend that all museum educators and curators view this well-done video.

Alan Petersen, Curator of Fine Art, and Samantha Honanie, Bookstore & Publications Manager, at MNA, discussing slow looking and Slow Art Day. 30 March, 2022.

In six minutes, Samantha and Alan show (not tell) the viewer how Slow Art Day works.

They use some simple but ingenious methods for “showing” 10 minutes of slow looking in just a minute or so — and they then capture the joy of discovery and enthusiasm that participants experience (that is so hard to describe in words).

It’s a real joy to watch.

Take a look and think about how you might borrow some of their techniques for your next Slow Art Day event.

For the actual day, participants were given a Slow Art Day cheat sheet of slow looking prompts.

Participants were then invited to view the art by Baje Whitethorne, choosing the order they wanted to see the artworks in, and applying the slow looking promts from the cheat sheet.

At 2pm, all participants gathered in the Living Room at the museum, where Alan Petersen led a discussion of the insights and experiences from the event.

We recommend viewing the following video of artist Baje Whitethorne introducing the title and theme of his exhibition, Náátsʼíilid / Rainbow Light, below.

Baje Whitethorne introducing the exhibition theme – Náátsʼíilid/Rainbow Light.

We love everything about the NMA’s Slow Art Day – the preparatory video, the cheat sheet and the artwork chosen. We hope you get a chance to spend as much time with Baje Whitethorne and their work as we did in preparing this report.

We at Slow Art Day HQ are grateful that via writing these reports we get to look at and experience art from all over the world – art we may never have otherwise been able to see.

We look forward to whatever the Museum of Northern Arizona comes up with for Slow Art Day 2023.

– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

P.S. Stay updated with events at the Museum of Northern Arizona via their Facebook page.

Slow Art with Kandinsky at the Norton Simon Museum

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.

Vassily Kandinsky, 1927. Heavy Circles.
Oil on canvas. 22-1/2 x 20-1/2 in. (57.2 x 52.1 cm) Courtesy of Norton Simon Museum

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.

Johanna, Ashley, Jessica, and Phyl