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Visit Art Museum Essay

10 REASONS TO VISIT ART GALLERIES

If you really want to know what someone is like as a person, mention the term, "art gallery" to them and see how they respond.  I'm serious.  People tend to have strong feelings about art galleries.  Many people who've never even visited a gallery tend to think that they're "fancy," "hoity toity" and exclusive places where they're not welcome.  Contemporary art dealers and gallerists are busy people who are juggling many things most of the time.  Given the lack of arts education in schools, informing the public can be exhausting and it's not always on the top of the lists of galleries that are trying to stay afloat.  Imagine smiling and repeating the same things over and over and over again to every Tom, Jennifer and Bruce who visits your gallery and none of those people buys anything.  But hey, that comes with the gig.  Anyway, I love art galleries and here are ten reasons why I think you should visit them...
 
1. FREE ADMISSION:  You know, they say the best things in life are free.  This is a fantastic reason to visit art galleries.  All you have to do leave your fear at the door, walk in, smile, say hello to your greeter (if there is one), quietly walk around and enjoy your visual feast.  It's free of charge.  What could be better?
 
2. THE BEST OF CONTEMPORARY ART: Depending on which galleries you visit, you're likely to see the best of the best in contemporary art.  Of course, "the best" remains subjective.  Still, many of the galleries in New York's Chelsea district fit the bill.  However, great art galleries are all over the world.  Pick and choose.  Better yet, visit them all if you can.  That's my goal.
 
3. SEE FAMOUS ART NOW: By checking out contemporary art galleries now, you can get acquainted with artists and their work before they become famous or even while they're growing in popularity and price.  By gallery hopping, you can call yourself a trendspotter or even a trendsetter.
 
4. MEDITATION: For me, art is a form of meditation.  Nothing carries you away and clears your mind like visiting art galleries.  I think it's best to visit galleries either by yourself or with an artist friend.  When I'm alone and looking at art in galleries, I get essay ideas or even come up with solutions for issues in my life.  For the most part, it's really a time to be in communion with creativity.  I've visited galleries with artist friends like Deborah Bigeleisen, Wolfgang Stiller, James Kennedy, Matthew Beall, David Greg Harth, Scott Andrew Spencer and others.  There's nothing like it.  It's like getting a quiet education.  Artists see things that art historians and other art professionals simply won't see.  You get inside the process of art making when you visit galleries with artists.  It meditative and fun.  Art galleries often restore this great sense of calm and wholeness.  Work-pressured art dealers probably won't feel this way, but you will.
 
5. CREATIVITY: Nothing boosts your own personal creativity more than visiting art galleries.  If you want to unleash your own creative juices, visit them often.  I'm not sure how it works, but it feels like osmosis.  Being around art and in the company of creative people makes YOU more creative.  Don't get caught up on HOW, just enjoy your new found process.  Trust me on this one.
 
6. SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESS: You know, far too many of us tend to have a "what's in it for me?" outlook.  However, when you visit art galleries, you're really supporting small businesses.  You may not buy anything, but when you visit a gallery or any retailer for that matter, you're setting into motion a chain of possibilities for them.  Possibilities don't pay the bills, but they're better than no visitors at all.  Word of mouth and the power of attraction should be taken seriously.
 
7. ART EDUCATION: Contemporary art museums aren't the only places to learn about art.  You can learn plenty in art galleries.  A really good art gallery will have "people-friendly" staffers on hand who can tell you all about the art that you're seeing in addition to some things about the artist.  Just get over your fear (or take your fear with you) and WALK IN.  This is not a pop quiz.  No one is judging or snubbing you.  They're too busy with their own work and agenda.  If you do get snubbed, just leave and don't return to that particular gallery.  Simple as that.  By the way, smart galleries know that it's best to be kind to all visitors.  You never know where that next sale may originate.
 
8. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: This is literally the heart of the matter.  If you open yourself up to art, you'll allow this entire world of creativity to literally transform you as a human being.  I'm not kidding.  Since I've been collecting, visiting galleries, chatting with artists and seeing so much art, I've become - if I do say so myself - smarter, sharper, warmer, freer, more tolerant and considerate and more at peace not to mention more creative.  Try it.  Visit a gallery or even a museum once a month if you can.  You'll see.  I really believe that there's a direct connection between the lack of arts education in schools these days and the fact that society has become so snarky, cynical, angry, scattered and far too often, wretched.  We've lost our way.  However, we can reconnect to ourselves and greater values.  Art and art galleries aren't the end all, but they do represent one pathway back to wholeness.  Yes, this seems like an overstatement, but again, try it and see.
 
9. COMMUNITY: If nothing else, art teaches us that we are part of something much larger than ourselves.  You can see this quite clearly during gallery exhibition openings.  There's nothing like being amid a crowd of people who love art.  You may or may not find experts in the crowd, regardless, it'll feel great to be among a group of art lovers.  It's super cool.  Keep in mind, the social element of art openings and large crowds often eclipses the art itself.  As much as I love art and galleries, I still believe that people come first.  Make friends.  Art friends are the best.  Visit the gallery again during a quieter time when you can really focus on the art and establish a personal relationship with it.  I remember one year when I was touring Art Miami with artist Deborah Bigeleisen.  Of course, she knows I write about art and she said to me, "I don't see you taking notes or anything."  But in that moment, I felt that it was more important to be with a friend rather than being wrapped up in my own thoughts and constantly jotting down notes.  Again, people are more important than art.
 
10. JUST PLAIN FUN: Yes, art is just plain fun.  All contemporary art requires is that you spend a little time with it.  Get to know it.  See yourself in it, good or bad.   The process is fun.  Art teaches and reveals who we are to ourselves.  If you're into self-examination, you'll have a blast.  If not, well, visit a couple of galleries anyway.  Give it a shot.  If you don't like the show in a particular gallery, keep it moving.  Visit another gallery.  Life is really an "All you can eat" buffet.  So are art galleries.  You have the power to pick and choose the art that you like and want to spend time with.  Enjoy.

There you have it.  You know, art galleries come and go and a lot of folks think that while the internet is liberating artists, it's also putting some galleries out of business.  This doesn't have to be the case.  Let's hope that smart, user-friendly galleries hang around for a long time.  Art dealers need them, artists need them and so do we.

 

How To Visit An Art Gallery

10 Myths About Contemporary Art

Back to Current Condition articles

Want to do something good for yourself and the people you love? Go to a museum.

Museums, in this article, include art, history, and specialty museums, science centers, zoos, aquariums, botanic gardens, arboretums, nature centers, historic sites and similar institutions.

 

1.  Museums make you feel good

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Times are tight in this economic climate, and it’s often easy to use a museum admission price as an excuse to stay at home. However, a recent study conducted by Harris Interactive finds that people are happier when they spend money on experiences rather than material purchases.  According to Leaf Van Boven, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at CU-Boulder,  experiences are shown to create more happiness than material goods because they provide positive personal reinterpretations over time. That is, as we revisit the memory of our trip to the museum, we have a tendency to psychologically weed out any negative memories (should there be any). Experiences, such as visiting a museum, can also become a meaningful part of ones identity and contribute to successful social relationships in a manner that material items cannot. So consider foregoing an outing for items that you may not need; going to the museum will make you happier in the long run.

 

2.  Museums make you smarter

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There is no doubt that a primary role of museums is to engage and educate the community.  Museum exhibits inspire interest in an area of study, item, time period, or an idea– but there’s more going on in museums in regard to education than one might think. Schools rely heavily on museums to enhance the their curriculum. The New York Museum Education Act, for example, aims to create a partnership between schools and cultural institutions to prepare students for the 21st century.  Galleries are becoming classrooms, and not just for kids. Even the museums themselves have interesting histories to inspire and educate visitors. It becomes nearly impossible to exit a museum without having gained any information or insight during your visit.

 

3.  Museums provide an effective way of learning

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Museums are examples of informal learning environments, which means they are devoted primarily to informal education — a lifelong process whereby individuals acquire attitudes, values, skills and knowledge from daily experience and the educative influences and resources in his or her environment. Even outside of museums, informal learning plays a pivotal role in how we take in the world around us. In fact, The U.S. Department of Labor estimates 70% or more of work-related learning occurs outside formal training.  A single visit to a museum can expose visitors to in-depth information on a subject, and the nature of the museum environment is one in which you can spend as much or as little time as you like exploring exhibits. The environment allows you to form your own unique experiences and take away information that interests you. Despite the success that museums have already had in educating visitors, there continue to be ongoing discussions among institutions in regard to increasing museums’ ability to connect through informal learning.

 

4.  Museums are community centers

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Museums are a lot more than collections of artifacts; they allow you to meet with neighbors, discuss thoughts and opinions, and become an active part of the community.  There have been yoga classes at MoMA and Rock Band Summer Camps at the Experience Music Project.  Museums are increasingly holding art chats, book signings, professional development classes, and even wine festivals and farmer’s markets. Something is going on everywhere– just pull up the web page of a local museum (or hop on their Facebook page) and see what they have to offer!

 

5.  Museums inspire

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Museums provide inspiration through personal connections with visitors, and not only on-site and through physical community outreach efforts; some even manage to connect through their social networks.  These kinds of personal memories created at museums do not expire. Please check out this lovely video on the personal impact of museums, created by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance & the American Association of Museums.

 

6.  Museums help bring change and development to communities

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Research has uncovered that creating community involvement is more about location than the activity at hand, and this kind of location-based learning (like the kind utilized in museums) is a trigger for change and development within the community. As museums are functioning more and more like community centers in providing access to current research and new ideas, they’ve become hot-spots for civic engagement. In museums, even (in some cases, especially) children are actively asked to take part in their communities. The promotion of education and the cultivation of conversation that are taking place in museums across the nation shapes and strengthens our neighborhoods.

 

7.  Museums are a great way to spend time with friends and family

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Museums provide a great excuse to spend time with friends and family in a positive way. Personal connections can be made with museums and also with family members during visits. A day at the museum often translates to a day spent with loved ones as fathers and mothers transform into tour guides, and the environment provides a shared learning experience. Want to take a date to a museum? Here’s how to do it

 

8.  A museum may be your next community partner or business endeavour

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It takes a lot of employees to help run America’s approximately 17,500 museums and it takes countless businesses and community partners to keep them functioning. Museums need everything from printing services, to video surveillance, to dino-glue– and they are inextricably woven into the web of American government and businesses. If you are not a direct business provider for a museum, you can get some great PR and possibly borrow an artifact or two for a big meeting if you are willing to contribute a monetary gift to a museum. Alternatively, you can follow the lead of these entrepreneurs who are creating their own museums. Or, at the very least, business men and entrepreneurs can trace the development of the National Museum of Entrepreneurship in Denver, and perhaps pay them a visit within the next few years.

 

9.  Museums need your support in order to keep educating and inspiring people

Many museums are nonprofit entities with missions to educate and inspire audiences – and that means that they need the support of visitors, members, and donors in order to keep on fulfilling those missions. Sadly, many people don’t even know that museums are nonprofit organizations! Often, a membership pays itself off in as few as three annual visits to a museum, and you can come back and visit the museum again and again all year round.  If you like a cultural organization and you want to keep it around for decades to come (so that you may bring your great-grandchildren), make a donation or fill out that membership card with pride! In many ways, supporting a museum through visitation or – even better – through membership or philanthropic support – is a way of strengthening communities and giving back so that the museum can create impactful programs that fulfill its mission.

 

10.  There is a museum close to you

According to the American Association of Museums (now the American Alliance of Museums since the original publication of this post)  museums average approximately 865 million visits per year or 2.3 million visits per day. That’s a lot of museum visits! It doesn’t hurt that there are museums in every state. To find one near you, try the Official Museum Directory. By conducting a search on the Internet, you may find some rather unusual and interesting museums worth checking out. From the Museum of Wooden Nickles in San Antonio, to the Asphault Museum in Rohnert Park, California, there is certainly something for everyone.

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