Scientists have long known that visiting museums is good for health: it lowers blood pressure and cortisol levels, and improves mood and well-being. But what about online galleries? A new study by the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics has confirmed that even viewing art online positively affects our well-being.
The study involved 200 students from the University of Vienna. They were shown an online exhibition of Claude Monet’s Water Lily Pond, a joint project between Google Arts & Culture and London’s National Gallery. Participants then completed a questionnaire and described their reactions to the online exhibition. The results showed that, overall, viewing art online lifted their spirits. At the same time, for those who used large screens (computer monitors or tablets) for viewing, this had a more noticeable effect than those who used a smartphone.
“Aesthetic responsiveness describes how people respond to various aesthetic stimuli such as art and nature. The results showed that people with high levels of artistic and aesthetic sensibility benefit more from viewing art online due to a more enjoyable and meaningful artistic experience,” says Edward Wessel of MPIEA, developer of the Aesthetic Sensitivity Assessment (AReA).
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