Slow Art Day tips from the Rubin Museum to test your looking skills

Be honest — how long do you look at a piece of art? For most people, it’s probably a few seconds. But at least for one day a year, you’re encouraged to look a little longer — specifically, 10 minutes.

Slow Art Day launched in 2010, with hundreds of museums participating, and this year will be observed on April 8. The Rubin Museum of Art will be participating for the third time.

“It really goes hand-in-hand with our philosophy,” says Laura Sloan, manager of docent and access programs at the museum. “Education here at the museum is really focused on slow looking in general, and how that could contribute to your connection with the art.”

In addition to its popular tours, this year, the museum is launching a new, self-guided audio tour on Slow Art Day, narrated by meditation teachers Sharon Salzberg and Kate Johnson.

For other ways to mark the event, Sloan shares some activities that can help you slow down and test your looking skills:

Take longer — and longer — looks

Look at a piece for 5 seconds then turn around and write down five things to describe it. Do the same thing again looking for 10 seconds, then 20.

Back-to-back drawing

In this partner exercise, two people stand or sit back to back. One person faces the object and describes it to the second, who draws it.

Ask yourself questions

Some questions Sloan recommends you can ask yourself for deeper looking include: What is the first thing you notice about this artwork? Does this make you think of anything that you’ve seen before? What do you see that makes you say that?


Slow Art Day at the Rubin Museum is April 8 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., with guided tours at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. | admission $15 adults, $10 students and seniors | 150 W. 17th St., 212-620-5000, rubinmuseum.org