An up-to-date field of human psychology is the study of what is termed The Museum Effect. When we visit a gallery or museum, our cognitive processes are involved with a unique environment. Instead of familiar sights and sounds, we are surrounded by something we have never seen before. The layouts and the decorations that frame our journey from exhibition to exhibition all present something unusual for our minds. Instead of being a stressful situation, most of us actually calm down during our visit. What is going on?
Some of us might not find the idea of art and culture being relaxing. It can be intimidating to be presented with an array of unknowns, not knowing what to think or say about what you see can be awkward and embarrassing. When you bear in mind that there is no wrong way to enjoy art, no wrong thought to think about it, it can be less tense. If you have something to say, say it. People value novel input.
When we look at art, we are often reminded of things from our own lives. We are given clues and pointers to various information that we hold or imaginary paths that we explore. The message of the piece is not necessarily the same for all of us, even something as well-known as David and Goliath can mean several things to various people. This process of seeing, absorbing, and inventing personal reference is something that can aid well-being and health.
When our well-being and health are promoted and encouraged, this is called flourishing. What does this actually mean though? Flourishing means that our quality of life is improving and our health is not getting worse, or if we are il, it's getting better. Fitness levels, contentment, financial freedom, psychology, and all kinds of qualifiers all go into the holistic measurement of flourishing.
Museums and art galleries have a proven effect on our quality of life. They help reduce stress and help give meaning to life. The pleasure we get from enjoying art, music, and culture is a direct solution to many minor issues that can cause our psychology to be negative. A positive outlook is essential for a good quality of life. If we let the creations of other people take our minds away from the ever day stressors and concerns, we're offered an escape from what ever might be grinding us down.
According to psychologist Dr. Jeffery Smith “In essence, the museum effect contends that when we enter a museum we are able to enter into a state of heightened contemplation that allows us to reflect about ourselves, the communities to which we belong, and society more broadly.” Therapy Tips.
The safe space presented by galleries and museums alongside the new and interesting provocations within each work, our thoughts are teased from their subconscious yarns and knitted into unique and self-relevant garments. As we explore the new ideas and reminders of things we feel strongly about, we add to our escapist story and allow the outside world to melt away. With a combined effect of new surroundings, new visuals, new sounds, and plenty of things to read and listen to, our entire living space is redefined within the confines of the exhibit.
Attempting to properly understand the principles of the museum effect can help curators better define their process to allow for the most positive experience. Interested?
Recommended read: The Museum Effect: How Museums, Libraries, and Cultural Institutions Educate and Civilize Society
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