Written by: Jessica Lindsey, Public Relations Intern

Looking at and analyzing artwork releases dopamine in the brain

New research by Semir Zeki, professor of neuroesthetics at University College London, shows that looking at artwork releases dopamine in the brain, the same neurotransmitter that allows us to feel love. Looking at art really makes you fall in love! Not only that, but dopamine also contributes to learning and high cognitive functioning. When looking at art, the more dopamine you release, the more you learn.

Studies have shown that viewing art can lead to a decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone

There are many effects of high levels of cortisol in the brain – including interfering with learning and memory, lowering immune function, increased weight gain, high blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease. Looking at art allows the brain to process the stress hormone in a more efficient way, allowing a decrease in the effects of high cortisol levels, making a healthier you!

Can lead to inspiration

Do you ever feel that you’re stuck in a creative rut with no hope of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? A museum is a great place to get those creative juices flowing. Looking at other artists’ works is a gateway to developments of new creative outlets such as music, architecture, interior design and writing.

Creates a feeling of awe

Looking at and analyzing art undoubtedly creates a feeling of awe, which can have a range of highly valuable effects. According to Rachel Fredericks, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Ball State University, people who feel more awe are generally more comfortable with uncertainty, are generally more motivated to increase their understanding, process information more systematically, and have enhanced memory, among many other things. To learn more about Dr. Fredericks and her background in philosophy, click here.

Getting educated outside of a classroom, at your own pace

The things you learn in a classroom might be important, but nothing beats what you learn through touring a gallery. Museums are environments where informal learning thrives – a process where individuals acquire beliefs, values, skills and knowledge from daily experiences and resources in their environments. You can also use self-guided tours to spend as much or as little time as you like on exhibits, something that might not be possible in a classroom environment.

Museums can make you smarter

In a study conducted by The New York Times, students from an Arkansas school were randomly selected to go on a field trip to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The students who attended the trip demonstrated stronger critical thinking skills, displayed higher levels of social tolerance, exhibited greater historical empathy and developed a taste for art museums and cultural institutions – all admirable qualities everyone should strive for. This experiment inspired development for the SMART program at DOMA, in which 4th grade students are led on guided tours that emphasize Indiana art, social studies, and language arts with pre- and post-visit activities. To learn more about the SMART program, click here.

Become an active part of the community

Museums have an extremely positive effect on the community. They have the ability to connect people from different cultures and religions by offering a glimpse into the creative minds of people from all over the world. A community that appreciates cultural diversity is one that fosters the idea of acceptance among people from many different backgrounds, creating a stronger community bond.

Spend time with friends and family

Art galleries are great places to better connect with family. Analyzing a painting, sketch or sculpture together creates a shared learning experience between parents, children and siblings. Parents also transform into tour guides, leading their children through the galleries and encouraging them to think outside the box. At DOMA throughout the month of February, we’re offering guided painting activities in the Diebenkorn exhibition every weekday from 11-1 p.m. This activity allows parents to engage with their children in a creative environment.

Free admission

All of the things listed above can be yours – for free! Not only does DOMA have free admission, but many museums across the country do as well. For those museums that don’t, many have community days where admission is free. Take advantage of everything museums have to offer, with nothing to give up but a bit of your time!






Fredericks, Rachel. “Awe: In and Out of the Classroom.” David Owsley Museum of Art: Alliance Speaker Series, 14 February 2018, Ball State University Alumni Center, Muncie, Ind.