By: Michelle Ernst, PhD

April 11, 2019

This summer, Cory Garfin and I had the pleasure of conducting qualitative work at a NYC museum. We observed and interviewed its visitors and found that many of the people we met were either professional artists or were connected to art as an educator, museum employee, or in some other way. While it is not surprising that artists would visit museums in large numbers, we felt that this museum may be attracting artists at an unusually high rate and wondered if that was really the case. Just why are artists so inclined to visit this museum in particular?

In the fall, we followed this qualitative work with a quantitative survey and found that indeed artists are visiting the institution in high percentages. Probing more deeply, these artists were particularly likely to find the museum to be a place of inspiration.

This begs the question of what makes a cultural institution particularly likely to serve as a source of inspiration? We think this specific museum’s tranquil, oasis-like atmosphere coupled with its content connected to spiritual themes creates a space conducive to self-reflection and mindfulness.

Know of other cultural organizations that attract a large artist-based audience? I’d love to chat! 


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