Lonely Planet Writer

Why the Tate Modern encourages visitors to take a 'slow look' at art

Finished are the days of breezing through an exhibition as fast as possible, one click of a picture and then onto the next painting. Or at least, they’re finished at the Tate Modern in London, England.

‘Slow looking’ has arrived at Tate Modern. Photo by Richard Newstead/Getty Images

The famous contemporary art museum is implementing a new policy to encourage its visitors to “take things slow” and spend at least half an hour in front of each painting, to truly catch the finer details of the artwork.

If you’re wondering what made Tate Modern on this ‘slow looking’ approach, here’s the answer — the gallery is hosting an upcoming exhibition on Pierre Bonnard, featuring 100 works of the French artists. It’s a major moment for Tate Modern, since they haven’t had one in twenty years. And so they want to make sure that Bonnard’s works are appreciated as they should by the exhibition’s visitors.

“Lodge” by Pierre Bonnard, painted in 1908. Photo by Christophel Fine Art/UIG via Getty Images

While you obviously can’t force people to spend more time in front of paintings, you can encourage them to do so, and that’s what exhibition curator Matthew Gale and his team hope to do. To achieve this goal, they are putting in place some ingenious design techniques — each painting will not only have more space dedicated exclusively to it, but it will also be accompanied by a bigger label so that reading it will no longer disrupt the actual admiring of the artwork. Tate Modern is also planning on hosting evening viewings of the gallery, which would allow visitors to take things slower instead of rushing through the exhibition in an hour or so.

Encouraging visitors to slow look at the artwork will also pass through design improvements. Photo by David Cabrera/Getty Images

Pierre Bonnard: The Colour of Memory will open at the Tate Modern in January 2019 and will run until May of the same year. You can find out more about the exhibition at its official website here.