You don’t have to be an artist to reap the benefits of art. Neuroscience shows that even viewing art engages reward circuits within your brain and releases happy hormones such as serotonin.
You don’t have to go to a museum to view art.
With COVID-19, museums and galleries have made new, virtual opportunities available. Some simulate conventional exhibitions, and other interactive projects are pioneering new methods of engagement.
It may be unnatural at first, but try to build a habit of viewing art if you don’t love creating it. Try taking five to ten minutes during your work breaks. Viewing art will increase your focus, mental acuity, and even boost your mood.
Below are eight easy outlets for when you need an art pick-me-up.
For a Traditional Museum Experience:
The Met Online Features
As part of a new virtual experience, the Met Museum has a variety of options in viewing art from the comfort of your home.
When you enter the Online-Features Gallery, the first option you’ll find is ‘MetCollects.’ These are curated presentations of a given artists work. The first episode of 2020, for example, features butterfly art and fashion by Sandy Schreier.
The next option is "The Met 360° Project,” which is a series of six videos from around the world. This utilizes spherical 360° technology to view special architecture from untraditional, often inaccessible views.
The “Artist Project,” is a six season interview collection with artists. Discussions range from what draws their inspiration to how they feel seeing their art displayed.
If you want to have a traditional museum experience, you can also view the Met’s Online Collection. This has highlights, search features, and virtual exhibitions under the Art tab.
The Guggenheim at Large
Another New York treasure, The Guggenheim has invested in a plethora of virtual opportunities. Under Online Resources, the Guggenheim at Large is the gateway to accessing what the museum has to offer.
Guggenheim Circular are blog style posts centered around themes such as ‘Home,’ ‘Embrace,’ and ‘Community.’ Within each post, curators have compiled art and artists stories with unique perspectives to the selected theme.
Again, if you want a traditional experience, the Guggenheim offers virtual tours guided by educators on Wednesdays and Saturdays. They also have an online gallery with thousands of pieces.
For Nontraditional Experiences
The Whitney Museum’s Artport Initiative
Founded in 2001, Artport is a gallery initiative that focuses solely on the internet and new media. Artport is listed under the ‘Art and Artists’ Tab on the museum website.
One special commission to check out is the Michael Mandiberg Live Study. This video series documents over 1,000 hours of the artist painting portraits on translucent glass.
[Left] Photo by Matthew Cabret [Middle] Photo by Sapan Patel [Right] Photo by JJ Ying; all from Unsplash
Artport also commissioned a series entitled SUNRISE/SUNSET. While the entire series is visually fascinating, Kristin Lucas’ Exhibit is enchanting. Preaching messages of conservation, Lucas created a 3D visual habitat for animated penguins and flamingos. There are several videos to view the speculative habitat exhibit within the online tab.
Under the Art & Artists tab, the videos section is full of unique interviews with artists and upclose visuals of their exhibitions. Most recent uploads include the ‘Making of Liza Lou’s Kitchen’, which is a beaded, full-scale replica of a classic American kitchen.
For More: https://whitney.org/artport
Virtual Art Sessions by Google Chrome
Virtual Art Sessions is a virtual reality experiment and amazing interactive experience for viewers.
When you enter the website, you’ll be directed to select one of six artists. Their mediums range from sculpting and illustration to fashion and street graphics. Pick the one that interests you most. Then, you’ll be able to view 3D videos of the artists working. The sessions include interactive features such as zooming in, altering your view of the artist, and even interacting with their work.
The virtual reality aspect of this session is built on a program called Tilt Brush, which allows viewers to paint in a 3D virtual reality.
To view the installation: https://virtualart.chromeexperiments.com/#/artists
If you enjoy the virtual reality experience, Art Sessions is a program that allows you to build your own art gallery online.
First, create an account to save your work with art sessions. Then, upload your favorite photos, videos, text, or use the 3D content provided by the website. Art Sessions then allows you to build your own virtual gallery. You can design the layout, wall colors, interior furniture and fixtures, and more! Lastly, you can build a space that tells a story. Art Sessions allows you to place guides throughout the gallery, and you can write narratives for guides to read.
Galleries can be created and shared on the platform, prompting art engagement and a virtual reality space for your favorite images.
To try Art Sessions: https://www.artsteps.com
No Frills, No Problem. If Virtual Reality and technology isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to view art without the formality museums bring.
Create Pinterest Boards
Pinterest is an amazingly simple way to stimulate your creativity and brain. The platform allows you to create themed boards, and then pin desired photos to them.
If you’re redecorating or need design inspiration, Pinterest is a great place to find inspiration. If you love fashion, you can pin your favorite outfits, stylizations, accessories and from Pinterest content. If you love beautiful photography, Pinterest is bursting with global urban, suburban, and everywhere in between images.
The search engine in pinterest is super simple. To get higher quality content, add the word ‘photography’ to the end of your searches. You can also search for specific types of art, such as cubist, palette knife paintings, pottery, and modern illustrations.
Watch Youtube Time Lapses
Youtube integrated into almost every facet of life: tutorials, lessons, meaningful life events. It’s also a great platform for artists to post time lapses of their paintings.
There’s amazing satisfaction that comes from watching an artist paint. But, you probably don’t have the time to watch for hours on end. Time lapses are a great way in seeing a piece created from beginning to end. Take a five to ten minute break from work, and stimulate your brain by searching ‘painting time lapse’ on Youtube. You can be specific by searching for acrylic or watercolor or general.
Two accredited channels to check out are Chuck Black Art and Lena Dayna.
Play Google Arts & Culture Crosswords
Google Arts and Culture is a platform for art engagement. The website hosts a variety of ‘experiments,’ such as finding portraits that look like you and zooming in on landscapes.
One fun activity for all ages is their visual crossword puzzle. It’s icon is located on the Arts & Culture Home Page. After you click on it, you’ll be guided to ‘launch the experiment.’ Once you do this, you’ll have to match paintings with different descriptions. As you level up, they get harder to distinguish.
Visual Crosswords combine traditional puzzles with the problem solving tactics art already simulates in the brain.
You don't even need to pick up a pencil to benefit from art. As you can see, the outlets for art engagement can be customized to your interests.
While the COVID-19 pandemic makes us housebound, use it as an opportunity to invest in your cognitive health and wellbeing. Viewing art is one simple way to give your brain health a boost.
Click here to learn more about the neuroscience behind art and aesthetic experiences or color psychology.