How to do a museum micro-visit

Published 21 March 2019

Short museum visits are achievable, rewarding and, according to recent research, excellent for wellbeing. Here's how to shake up your cultural life with a micro-visit.

Do you want to visit museums and galleries more often, but never seem to find the time? We have the answer – and it isn’t more time.

While it’s possible to spend weeks among huge collections like the British Museum or a whole day taking in a blockbuster exhibition, the pressure to see everything can often result in not going at all.

Imagine if nipping into a gallery for half an hour was as easy as trying a new place for lunch or squeezing in a workout. Well, it can be!

Say hello to the 'micro-visit'. Whether you use your lunch break to catch a new show or find 15 minutes to focus on just a couple of exhibits, short visits are achievable, hugely rewarding and, according to research, excellent for our wellbeing.

So, if you’re always saying ‘I meant to see that’ – here are three simple ways you can make sure you do.

Give your imagination regular (short) workouts

You don’t need to spend several hours in a gallery to reap the many benefits – just as you don't need to run a marathon every time you work out.

Whether it's 10 minutes here or half an hour there, every little helps – and it all adds up.

Think of a micro-visit as the cultural equivalent of a turn around the block for a breath of fresh air, and it becomes a much more appealing and achievable goal. You don’t even have to shower afterwards.

Liven up your lunch breaks

If the highlight of your lunch break is browsing the supermarket’s sandwich aisle, why not do a quick search for museums and galleries nearby?

You might be surprised: according to this report, 55% of people in England live within walking distance of at least one.

Not only will a quick art fix revitalise your lunch break and take your mind off your to-do list, LSE Professor of Behavioural Science Paul Dolan believes that a daily ‘wellbeing allowance’ – just 30 minutes doing something that makes you feel good – is key to managing the stresses of modern life.

Not a bad call for midday on a damp Tuesday.

Take the rush out of the rush hour

While regularly visiting museums and galleries can be beneficial to wellbeing, you can keep things even more zen by avoiding rush hour and going straight after work.

Check out museums that stay open beyond office hours, and remember that many places offer weekly or monthly late openings like the National Gallery, the Ashmolean and the Scottish National Gallery.

Shake off the day, discover something new, and head home when things are a little less hectic.

The power of one

Instead of rushing through a gallery trying to take everything in, why not spend some quality time with a favourite exhibit?

If there’s a piece you already know you love, pay it a visit. If an artwork catches your eye on an ad, turn up and see how you like it in real life. Or simply wander without worry until something draws you in, and spend 15 minutes working out why you love (or hate) it.

The good thing is, with a National Art Pass, you can go back to see your favourites as many times as you like without worrying about the cost.

That's it! We're sure that, the more you weave micro-visits into everyday life, the more inspired you'll feel. Share your art experiences and let us know how you make art part of your everyday on Instagram with #NationalArtPass.


Learn more about the benefits of regularly visiting museums and galleries in Dr Chatterjee’s Feel Better, Live More podcast, in an interview with Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar. You can also find out how to carve out more time for art.

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