Museum Sanctuary

Have you ever thought about how strolling through a museum or gallery can create calmness within you? The environment is generally quiet, allowing you to focus on the artwork. You can stare at the artwork you like and walk past the work that doesn’t impress you. There are no rules on how to view the work (just don’t touch it!), and if you allow yourself to be guided by your senses, a trip to the museum can be a relaxing sanctuary. 

The Montreal Museum of Art has developed a “Museum prescription” program that allows doctors to prescribe a museum visit to patients that would benefit. In the Museum Magazine article on Museum Therapy, the author explains: “The prescription, which is also open to the patient’s family, allows free access to any of the museum’s five pavilions, exhibitions, and ongoing activities for families, seniors, and the community at large… This partnership reaffirms the principles upon which “Sharing the Museum” was founded: art and the museum can positively affect the health of the individual, the family, and the community.”

Viewing art is good for you

Neurobiologist Semir Zeki conducted a study that shows viewing artwork that you find beautiful lights up the same part of the brain as “gazing at a loved one”. In his TEDxUCL presentation, Dr. Zeki explains how the concept of beauty is individual. What you find beautiful may be different than what I find beautiful.

So, when you go to the museum for your relaxing personal therapy, find the artwork that lights you up. Spend as much time as you need staring at the work you find most beautiful, and take note of how it makes you feel. 

Try This

Create your own museum prescription! If you live in Wayne, Oakland, or Macomb county, you can visit the Detroit Institute of Art for free. Check their open hours and schedule your visit. Try to schedule on a day that you don’t have other commitments. Wander the galleries until you find artwork that you are compelled to stare at for a few minutes. You may even take a notebook with you to sketch and write about your experience.

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