At the Denver Art Museum on the third Tuesday of every month you might notice a group of 20 or so visitors clustered around a single work of art, engaged in lively conversation. When you pass by the group 40 minutes later, you may see them switching seats, some getting closer to the work, others gaining some distance and discussing what effect it has on how and what they see. “How can they still be at it?” you might wonder.
These visitors are participating in our new Mindful Looking gallery program, a “slow art” experience that invites participants to explore the DAM collection one work at a time. With such a large permanent collection, ever-changing special exhibitions, and expansive physical space (166,000 square feet, across both buildings), it’s easy to flit from one work of art to the next, like a butterfly traveling from flower to flower in a garden. But by spending time with just one or two works of art, we can be in the moment, leaving all of those pesky items on our to-do lists at the door, and delve deeper into a work of art.
The artwork will change every month, and, naturally, so will the experience. From conversation about why an artist in nineteenth-century France may have painted an emotionally charged scene to a guided visual meditation through a landscape, getting to know a work of art can happen in many different ways. While flitting around like a butterfly has its benefits, there’s something wonderfully indulgent about landing on a single painting, sculpture, or other artwork to linger, look, wonder, and discuss.
Mindful Looking adds a new experience to our suite of Tuesday afternoon programs, which also includes Drop-In Drawing and Drop-In Writing. In coming months we will explore paintings in our American, western American, and European galleries but will soon expand to other collections in the museum. We hope to linger in the galleries with you soon!