The Museum as a Healing Space: Addressing Museum Visitors' Emotional Responses through Viewing and Creating Artwork
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This museum-based study analyzes museum visitors' emotional responses to viewing and creating artwork within the context of the museum space. Five clients from a women's shelter participated in the study, with ages ranging from fourteen to fifty two years old. Museum visitors were instructed to choose an artwork within the museum that resonated an emotion, feeling, or memory, followed by the completion of a guided written response. Participants shared the chosen artwork with one another and discussed the rationale for choosing the object. Artwork was created in response to the museum tour. Data collected and examined include: a State Anxiety Inventory (SAI) before and after the program; museum narrative written response; observations; analysis of artwork and writing responses; and a follow-up survey. Participants demonstrated personal connections to viewing museum objects that corresponded to themes within their own artwork. Results of the study determine that anxiety was reduced overall, although certain levels of anxiety were unchanged or slightly increased within some participants. The findings provide insight into museum visitors' responses to museum content and may be applicable to educators interested in implementing healing art-based programs in collaboration with museums and community organizations.