Have you ever had that bizarre urge to finish a museum? You know what I mean. That feeling when you’re halfway through a museum or gallery. You’ve been pacing yourself up until now, but there’s that inexplicable need to finish. To be done. Sure, you want to say that you’ve seen everything in the National Gallery/MOMA/[your favorite museum name here], but you also really want to get to the museum café and eat since you’ve already been here for like three hours (or any similar realization like needing to use the bathroom which is several floors down from your current location, or that if you spend any more time in said museum, you’ll miss out on the activity you had planned for later).
We’ve all done it. Looked at our phone or our watch and decided, Well, I guess I’ll just finish looking at this floor and then peace out. So we begin the brisk walk, let our eyes take in some of what’s on the walls, and then hurry out to our car/the bathroom/wherever there’s food. We feel a bit bad, but then just plan on coming back later (which we rarely do).
Well, San Francisco’s de Young Museum noticed. And, in an effort to combat the brisk-museum-finishing-syndrome plaguing so many museum-goers, they have designated this Saturday, April 11, as Slow Art Day.
According to the de Young’s website, Slow Art Day is a designated day recognized by museums and galleries across the world in which visitors are asked to look at art slowly. Possibly based on the Slow Food organization’s emphasis on quality, Slow Art Day asks visitors to any museum find one piece of art and spend five to ten minutes engaging with it. The goal is for visitors to focus on the practice of really seeing and engaging with a work, not just saying they’ve seen it. The de Young also asks visitors to share their experiences with friends, family, and social media followers by using the hashtag #SlowArtDay.
I don’t know about you, but the fact that museums and galleries are dedicating an entire day for viewers to slow down and really enjoy art is extremely refreshing. The focus on slowing down gives us viewers a break—we don’t have to see it all, all we really have to do is connect. The de Young and other museums around the world are realizing that simply seeing does not equal seeing, and providing a way for us to experience that and work on our perceptive skills. It’s a simple solution, and will hopefully enhance viewers’ approaches toward museums and art itself.
So do yourself a favor this weekend—slow down, and take it all in at the de Young.
Interested in the de Young’s activities for Slow Art Day? Check out their website here.