Your next big idea might not come in a brainstorming session, but instead among the dinosaur bones and masterpieces.
With at least 17,500 museums in the country, there are options for a visit to the 18th century or your favorite painter's thought process. But as a compelling space for startup brainstorming or stress reduction? Give the benefits of museums a peek with these reasons they're great for your creative process.
If you’re reading this with your shoulders tensed to your ears and a headache from staring at a screen, take a breather at a local museum. A University College London study shows that the cultural centers have their place in public health: reducing social isolation, providing positive distraction, teaching new skills, and increasing a sense of community and belonging.
A similar study exploring the expectations of museum-goers and the benefits they felt after a trip found that feeling restored was an important part of the experience. Escaping from the outside world, to the cultures and arts of other places and times, is a large part of why people go to museums.
This video presented by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and the American Alliance of Museums says it all. The awe of visiting a museum, arboretum, or arts attraction is an experience to bring back the childhood wonder in all of us. If you’re stuck in a creative rut, this can be the injection of inspiration you need.
“I want to be engaged,” says an interviewee. “So I walk up to the artwork and I say, 'Please engage me. I’m here, I’m ready, I’m willing--I’m ready to do some work. Give me something to work on.'”
People value the worth of museum visits at more than $5,000, according to a study from the London School of Economics. Participating in sporting events, in comparison, was valued around $2,500.
Interestingly--for men especially--museum attendance benefits the body where physical activity cannot. Koenraad Cuypers, a research fellow at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, found that for patients with physical and psychological limitations to intense activity, a passive cultural activity--like perusing a museum or taking in a theatre production--offered the same tension-relieving benefits as exercise. You won’t get six-pack abs from wandering the Met, but you might feel as refreshed as you do after a good run.
They employ more than 400,000 people nationwide and contribute $21 billion to the economy each year, according to a study by the American Alliance of Museums. Arts and culture make up 3.2% of the nation's economy, generating billions more in indirect visitor spending in their communities. Nonprofit organizations as a whole support 4.1 million full-time jobs, and over $135 billion in economic activity. Developing communities especially stand to benefit.
That’s all well and good on the national scale--but what does that mean for your business? Consider your local city’s museums as friends and partners: Donating to a museum is a win-win situation for your company and the museum that would love your help. The PR opportunities of showing support for a cultural organization are just waiting to be uncovered. Check out the Official Museum Directory’s 15,000 listings for one that fits with your business’ mission.
Hat Tip: Freelancers Union
[Image: Flickr user Raymond "Dmitri" Beljan]