Mindful Eye, Playful Eye: 101 Amazing Museum Activities for Discovery, Connection, and Insight

Smithsonian. Feb. 2024. 160p. ISBN 9781588347626. pap. $15.95. TRAV
“Museum” often elicits the image of a quiet, stately place where one browses exhibitions, but this book encourages readers to create their own unique museum experiences, through 101 activities that employ mindfulness and/or play. Garbutt (spatial experience design, Univ. of New South Wales, Sydney), meditation teacher/mindful leadership expert Nico Roenpagel, and Frank Feltens (curator, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art; Hokusai’s Brush) emphasize that play, a powerful means of inquiry and discovery, can expand into adulthood. They suggest that play and mindfulness should have a role when individuals seek to connect with art or other museum objects. Activities are divided into five sections: body, mind, vision, imagination, and action. Some of the activities are accompanied by images from Smithsonian exhibits, including paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts. Innovative and thought-provoking, these options help readers look at exhibitions differently. However, some ideas—such as “The Lion’s Breath,” which requires one to roar loudly and stick out their tongue—aren’t appropriate for every museum. Although particular environments might not be conducive to certain activities, the book’s practices can also be employed beyond museums.
VERDICT This imaginative book of engaging, fresh ideas for museum experiences encourages finding wonder everywhere. Museum and art lovers will enjoy.
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