A little mindfulness is part of the collection at many American art museums, which are offering yoga, meditation and other wellness programming as part of the art-viewing experience.

In New York City, the Brooklyn Museum offers yoga and meditation sessions. The Metropolitan Museum of Art last year featured workouts taught by professional dancers. And the Museum of Modern Art has long offered “quiet mornings,” when museum-goers can enjoy the art in a more contemplative atmosphere, without the usual ambient chatter.

Doing physical exercise or meditation in a museum is a far different experience than doing those activities in studios or on treadmills, says Dawn Eshelman, head of programs at the Rubin Museum of Art, which features both yoga and meditation programming. Combining those activities with viewing art enhances both, museum officials say.

And it seems to be catching on. Elsewhere in New York, The Asia Society offers meditation classes. In California, the San Diego Museum of Man offers “Yoga in the Rotunda.” The Philadelphia Museum of Art offers yoga, too.

The Children’s Museum of Green Bay, Wisconsin, meanwhile, has featured a “Yoga with Goats” program to help spark kids’ imaginations.

This Sept. 15, 2018 photo provided by the Rubin Museum of Art shows 100-year-old yoga teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch leading a yoga class at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York. The event was part of an all-day “Art and Yoga Urban Retreat” which took over the entire museum and was co-presented with New York Yoga + Life Magazine. (Chas Kimbrell/NY YOGA + LIFE/Rubin Museum of Art via AP)

“Museums are one of the very few secular spaces where, when visitors enter, they make a conscious effort to slow down and to absorb their surroundings,” says Boon Hui Tan, director of The Asia Society.

“So meditation is actually a very natural thing to do in a museum,” he says, adding that in the case of The Asia Society, it is also a way of helping visitors connect with the cultures to which the museum is dedicated, in which practices like meditation have a long history.

Eshelman, at the Rubin, in New York, agrees that part of the popularity of such programs is because “museums are contemplative spaces, so it makes sense that visitors pursue contemplative practices here.”

She says museums in general are looking at ways to increase their value to the public, and so are opening up to new ideas and activities.

This 2018 photo shows yoga being done at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York. Yoga and meditation classes are an ongoing complement to the art on view at the museum. (Alex Bershaw/The Rubin Museum of Art via AP)

“Any public institution worth its salt will ask itself, ‘What does my community need and what can I do to connect with that?'” she says.

Yoga programming is a natural, she explains, at the Rubin, which focuses on the art and cultures of the Himalayas, India and neighboring regions, where yoga originated.

“It’s not every day you can do a warrior pose beside a work of art depicting a deity doing the same pose,” she says. “There’s a lot of symbolism in the gestures and poses of yoga, and you get to experience them in a more tangible way here.”

At other museums, offerings like yoga are seen as a way to diversify a museum’s audience and help visitors engage more fully with the works on view. People come to museums not just to learn about art but to learn about themselves, Eshelman says.

“If you can find a way to engage people physically and emotionally, that’s a great gift,” she says.

Source: The Associated Press

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.