60-90 minutes. Offered online or in person at OMAH’s studio, this program will begin with a 5-10 minute guided relaxation. With their instructor, participants will engage in mindful breathing techniques, slowing their breath and calming their state of being. The instructor will then show a series of 5 artworks from OMAH’s permanent collection, asking prompt questions, such as, , “What is going on in this picture?”, “How do you feel when you look at this picture”, “What do you see that makes you say that?” and “What more can you find?” Participants will contemplate each piece as a whole and in its parts, discussing the ideas and emotions that it evokes while learning to pause and reflect. The instructor will moderate and encourage this discussion, emphasizing that there are no right or wrong answers.
Slowly examining artworks can act as a form of meditation and stress relief. Originally developed for healthcare professionals, this program is suitable for all persons who are struggling with pandemic burnout, stress, and mental fatigue.
The original idea for this program came from Dr. Hyewon Hyun, a radiologist and nuclear medicine physician at the Women’s Hospital in Boston. Also an art enthusiast, she noticed the similarities and differences between studying medical images and art. She then reached out to The Harvard Museum to design a program for their imaging physician trainees. In addition to providing training, their program also introduces physicians to closely and slowly looking at fine art as a way to manage stress, which in turn creates a calmer, safer work environment. In January of 2020, Dr. Warren Lewin, site lead for palliative care at Toronto Western Hospital heard of the program and reached out to the AGO to develop a “close looking” program with them. They could not predict that the Pandemic would hit less than two months later, and how vital a program like this could be to healthcare professionals. In January of 2022, OMAH reached out to Melissa Smith, AGO’s Assistant Curator of Community Programs, to ask about adapting the program to our needs, to which we were given full permission and autonomy.