If the museum closed, would you notice? When was the last time you visited an art museum? A recent article in the Baltimore Sun notes that, according to the National Endowment for the Arts, only 18.7% (45 million) of Americans reported visiting an art museum in 2015. Statistics from other sources suggest that those numbers may even be too high.
The article suggests several reasons why fewer Americans may be visiting art museums, and I would encourage you to read the article. But I want to ask you, why don’t you visit? For many of us, I would guess that our responses tend to fall into three categories – lack of time, lack of money, and lack of interest. We’re busy, we don’t want to spend the money, and we don’t really enjoy or think we understand art. We like to be entertained. Our digital world has convinced us that images need to be ever changing, constantly in motion, and full of astounding special effects in order to catch and maintain our attention. In comparison to the latest video game or blockbuster movie, a painting or sculpture seems dead and uninteresting.
Studies have shown that too much technology is changing the way our brains work, and not for the better. Other studies have shown the positive effects of both viewing and creating art. Yet, too many times, too many of us are choosing technology over art.
Can I challenge you with something? Spend this next week logging how many hours you spend with technology – not for work, but for leisure. Make a quick note of the time you spend checking personal emails, scrolling through facebook, posting and liking on Instagram. Include the time you spend watching television, movies, or playing video games. I’m guessing many of us would find that we are spending a incredible portion of our leisure time with technology.
Now imagine how long a visit to an art museum might take? We just visited our local museum on Saturday. it took us twenty minutes to get there, and we spent just shy of two hours there, plus twenty minutes on a return trip. So all told, less than three hours. I spend that much time on technology in pretty much any given day. I’m guessing you do too.
We happened to visit on a day the museum encourages patrons to spend a little time sketching. So they had paper, pencils, boards, and portable stools available. The galleries were filled with happy sketchers. We spent quality family time together, looked at beautiful art, had interesting conversations about what we saw, and even created some art of our own. How much more enriching was that experience than the hour I spent on Facebook over the weekend?
Now imagine that art museum is closed. Imagine the one across the street is closed. Let’s include the museum in your town too. In fact, let’s include all the art museums in all the towns of all our subscribers and the fine readers of this blog. Consider what now is the cost? How much have we lost? What banal substitutions will we find to fill the void where once beauty was available?
Understand that I am not saying there is nothing of value in technology. I write for an art blog on the internet for goodness sake! But museums bring a wealth of art, beauty, and education that simply cannot be replaced by technology.
So get out there! Find a museum in your town and go visit. Make time. Many museums have days throughout the year when they are free, check that out! Every Friday, we post an event on our Fun Friday feature on Facebook. When the event is in a town near you, come and check it out.
Let’s drive that 18.7% up in 2018! Leave me a comment and tell me where you visited and what you like about that particular museum!