I like strolling around museums and absorbing the art. But a recent New York Times article, The Art of Slowing Down in a Museum, suggests slowing down—waaaaay down—while visiting a museum:

“When you go to the library,” said James O. Pawelski, the director of education for the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, “you don’t walk along the shelves looking at the spines of the books and on your way out tweet to your friends, ‘I read 100 books today!’” Yet that’s essentially how many people experience a museum…

Professor Pawelski…asks [his students] to spend at least 20 minutes in front of a single painting that speaks to them in some way. Twenty minutes these days is what three hours used to be, he noted. “But what happens, of course, is you actually begin to be able to see what you’re looking at,” he said…

For instance, if you have an hour he suggests wandering for 30 minutes, and then spending the next half-hour with a single compelling painting…

Professor Pawelski said it’s still a mystery why viewing art in this deliberately contemplative manner can increase well-being or what he calls flourishing…He theorized, however, that there is a connection to research on meditation and its beneficial biological effects. In a museum, though, you’re not just focusing on your breath, he said. “You’re focusing on the work of art.”

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Thoughts? Would you do this? I’ve walked though many museums in my life, but I’ve never approached one like this. It makes me want to sneak off to the Met this weekend and see what strikes.

P.S. An art exhibit with swings, and the joy of taking a phone break.

(Photos by @museumbabes, @Beyonce and Guia Besana for the New York Times)