The recent studies have shown that engaging with the art can actually improve stress, memory and empathy, whether by viewing art or creating it.
The benefits of viewing are countless. According to a study conducted by the University of Westminster, participants who visited an art gallery on their lunch break reported feeling less stressed afterwards. They had lower concentrations of cortisol, the stress hormone, from just 35min spent roaming the gallery.
Looking at art also causes people to experience joy, akin to the sensation of falling in love. Neurobiologist Semir Zeki scanned 28 volunteers’ brains as they looked at art and noticed an immediate release of dopamine, the chemical related to love and pleasure.
Visiting the art gallery has been found to relieve people of mental exhaustion, the same way the outdoors can.Jan Packer’s study states the benefits of museum experiences, the four factors that contribute to mental restoration are commonly found in both natural environments and museums, making it an ideal work break.
It’s not only the adults who benefit from a trip to the art museum. A study published by the University of Arkansas found that children who viewed art displayed improved critical thinking skills and increased historical empathy, the ability to perceive what life was like for people who live in a different time and place. Thousands of students were evaluated on observation, interpretation, evaluation, association, and problem solving skills. After a trip to the art museum, there was between a 9-18% increase reported in the students critical thinking skills.