What Do The Stats Say?
The University of Westminster conducted a study in which participants visited a gallery during their lunch break. Participants reported feeling less stressed after visiting a gallery and also had lower concentrations of cortisol (a stress hormone)
Similarly, in 2014 the University of Arkansas published a study on the impact of museum visits. With 10k students surveyed, the study showed that up to 88% retained factual information from the tours. Students also displayed gains in tolerance and historical empathy following the trip.
Feeling of Love
One of the best known studies was conducted by Professor Semir Zeki, a neurobiologist at the University of London. Zeki’s study showed that viewing artwork causes you to experience the same physical reactions as when we fall in love. The volunteer’s brain scans showed immediate releases of dopamine (a chemical related to feelings of love, pleasure, and desire).
A study published by the University of Arkansas, examined 10k children. They evaluated the children’s interpretation, evaluation, association, and problem solving skills. In conclusion, they found the children who viewed art displayed improved critical thinking skills. They greater ability to perceive what life was like for people who lived in a different time and place.
Visiting art galleries relieves people of mental exhaustion, the same way the outdoors can. As stated in Jan Packer’s study on the benefits of museum experiences, the four factors that contribute to mental restoration (fascination, being away, compatibility, and extent) are commonly found in both natural environments and museums, making it an ideal work break.