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Mummies to Monet: The Creative Benefits of Visiting Art Galleries and Museums

Working in visual and audio arts, and the associated awareness of the unlimited potential of the digital realm, can sometimes result in a digital artist’s reluctance to engage with the classic arts. However, just because Picasso and Van Gogh don’t speak to you creatively, and the computer screen or sound board are the tools of your creative journey instead of the potter’s wheel or brush, don’t underestimate the benefits of stepping away from your comfort zone. Your next muse may lie waiting for you at your local museum or art gallery, and it may come from a surprising source.

Surrounded by Inspiration

Some of the greatest works of all time have been created from an artist dabbling in atypical mediums and genres. While a digitally trained artist may not be quick to pick up paint and a brush, the shapes, styles, tone, colors, and techniques found in a masterpiece hanging on the gallery wall or in the design of an ancient agricultural tool stored in a dusty museum case can inspire a groundbreaking idea easily translated into a digital medium.   


While hordes of elementary aged students are commonplace in popular museums and galleries, visiting at opening or an hour or two before close can give you the opportunity to meet fascinating people without the noisy background. Strike up a conversation with the gentleman mesmerized by the same work that caught your eye. Ask the awestruck woman telling her friend about a museum piece to retell her story. You never know the opportunities that can come from chatting with a stranger or the new perspective or inspirational piece of information you may come away with.  

Classes and Events

In an effort to increase traffic to galleries and museums as the quality of artistic and historical content improves on the internet, these venues have begun to offer special classes for their patrons. From knitting to basket weaving, from art history to historical preservation techniques, the topics you can learn for little to no cost are limitless. Grab an event calendar, and spend some time in a non-traditional classroom.

Fundraising events can also be a great place to meet like-minded artists and patrons of the arts. Because these events are often held outside of a venue’s scheduled business hours, they can allow you access to exhibits that may not be available for a regular visitor. Your contribution to a worthy cause is just a bonus to the experience!

Whole-Body Engagement

Instead of only focusing on the visual aspect of your visit, don’t forget to engage all of your senses. Reach out and touch the hands-on and children’s exhibits. Smell the paint or the familiar mustiness of age-old treasures. You never know the memories or inspiration waiting to be unlocked in your mind. The crowds, while annoying at times, are also part of the full experience; never underestimate the creative potential found in the art of people watching.  

Gift Shop Finds

Finally, don’t forget to stop by the venue’s gift shop on your way out. What used to be closet-sized rooms filled with dated postcards have now evolved into robust extensions of the venue and its exhibits. A small print of your favorite painting, a fascinating book about an interesting exhibit, or even a tacky little trinket can serve as a touchstone to re-ignite your inspiration months after your visit.