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What is Slow Art Day?

Slow Art Day is an international event celebrating looking at art in a different way. This year Slow Art Day is taking place on Saturday 10 April 2021 in nearly 100 venues around the world (and counting...). So, what is Slow Art Day all about? Here's what you need to know. How did Slow Art Day start? In 2008 Phil Terry visited The Jewish Museum in New York and instead of trying to see everything, he found a select few pieces to focus on: just 2 paintings: Hans Hoffman’s Fantasia and Jackson Pollock's Convergence. He wanted to find out what would

5 Ways to Use Language for Positive Effect in Art Discussions

As an educator, do you pay attention to the language you use when you are leading a discussion about art or objects? Do you notice how certain words, phrases and tenses can have a positive or negative effect on a group? Here are 5 ways you can use language for positive effect in your discussions. 1. Use neutral language Staying as neutral as possible as a facilitator encourages feedback from every participant and allows for multiple interpretations. Neutrality is a tricky concept (here's a good read on it) and this subject is always quite a thorny one in my classes

What is mindful looking and how can I get started?

There are many ways to look at and think about an artwork. Mindful looking is the process of slowing down and looking at an artwork or object from the perspective of mindfulness.  But what exactly is mindful looking and how can I get started?  What is mindfulness? Let's start by talking about what mindfulness is. As Jon Kabat Zinn states, ‘mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.' It is about a way of being, or a way of responding to the world. Mindfulness allows us to become fully present in

Best Practices for Sharing Information on Guided Tours

By Claire Bown How & when should we share information on guided tours? How can we do this productively and strategically? In this week's post I share best practices for sharing your information and content on tour. Plus I share some extra tips on how to think about handling information in a different way.  Many of us are experts in our field and want to share that incredible knowledge with the groups we lead. However, as I said last week, we need to think about how we can use the information and knowledge we have in a more productive and strategic

Information Overload: How Much is too Much on a Guided Tour?

by Claire Bown How much information is too much on a guided tour? When does information become a burden and how much do we actually remember afterwards? Traditional lecture-style 'walk and talk ' guided tours with an expert guide are still all-to-common and a standard way of 'presenting' an historic site, a city or a museum to the public. However, participants on these style of tours will remember very little of the information they are told, less than 5% in fact. They will become exhausted (and sometimes irritated) by the non-stop flow of information. They will leave their tour none

A Brief Guide to Thinking Routines

Interested in thinking routines but not sure where to start? Focusing on thinking routines is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to start working with Visible Thinking. Here is my brief guide: In 2011, I spent a year developing a new programme at the Tropenmuseum using thinking routines from Visible Thinking as a method of engaging and interacting with museum objects. The resulting programme ‘Stories Around the World‘ uses these routines  as the structure around which students can explore objects in the museum in a slow, careful and detailed way. What is a routine? A routine is simply defined as a sequence of actions or

How to Ask Brilliant Questions that Get Results

How can you easily make your guided tours, educational programmes and online sessions more engaging and more interactive? By asking brilliant questions that get results. When you ask insightful, well-worded questions AND make your participants feel comfortable enough to answer them (employ those facilitation skills), people will respond and you won't be faced with the terrifying sound of silence. But how do you ask brilliant questions? This is a subject that has followed me around over the last 9 years as I've spoken to guides all over the world grappling to get to grips with phrasing questions in the best

Stuck in a Tour Rut? 6 Tips to Refresh your Guided Tour for 2020!

Are you looking forward to leading your tours again in 2020? Are you getting excited by the thought of the new season starting?   If you're not sure about your answers to those questions, maybe you need to shake things up a little. We have a responsibility to do so much more than just ‘inform’ on our tours - people want to be surprised, moved, connected, and even transformed when they book a guided tour in 2020. So, if you're feeling jaded and uninspired, it's time to make some changes. First, get out of your comfort

Our 6 Most Popular Blogs of 2019

What did you enjoy reading the most in 2019? It's always good to reflect at the end of the year before starting a new one - and it was really interesting to see which of our blog posts were the most popular! Did you catch all of these? Scroll through this list, and catch up on our top blogs you may have missed throughout the year. 1. Visual Thinking Strategies and Visible Thinking No surprise this one - this blog has been a perennial favourite since it was first published way back in 2013. Update and refreshed for 2019, it

Slow-Looking: In-Depth Experiences with Art and Museum Objects

Much has been written about the power of art works, objects, artefacts to inspire, provoke curiosity and interest. It is generally accepted that looking at objects stimulates critical thinking through comparing and contrasting, identifying and classifying, describing and summarising and so on. Indeed, museums are increasingly using objects and art to help individuals learn what is variously called slow-looking, close-looking or viewing-skills. How Long Does the Average Visitor Spend Looking at an Object or Artwork? Looking is central to the museum experience. When we enter a museum, we are presented with a huge array of objects for us to look