Thursday, August 31, 2017

This Art museum hired a neuroscientist to change the way we look at art

ARTSY
By Christopher Snow Hopkins
Anila Quayyum Agha, All the Flowers Are for Me, 2017. Courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum.
From the late 16th to the early 20th century, the salon-style hang was the predominant display convention across Europe. But hanging paintings like this—crammed cheek to jowl in a gallery space—has since fallen out of favor, in part because it tends to prevent viewers from concentrating on a single work. But why, exactly? The reason may have something to do with the circuitry of the human brain—which is why the Peabody Essex Museum, in Salem, Massachusetts, is branching out and recruiting a neuroscientist to join its team. The implicit aim of the museum’s neuroscience initiative, made possible by a $130,000 grant from the Boston-based Barr Foundation, is to boost the institution’s relevance at a time of declining attendance across the museum landscape. [More]