We live in the age of instant, well, almost instant everything. You can find the clothes, holiday, insurance, home, car, beauty products, health supplements and much more that you might want online – and buy them! Choose your dinner online and have it delivered in a fraction of the time it would take to buy the ingredients, cook them and then clear up. Download music, films, books, games... the world is literally waiting at the end of your fingertips.
And, of course, the same applies to art.
Why bother going to a museum or contemporary art gallery when you can scroll through online examples of old masters and modern greats on your computer screen and in the comfort of your own home?
Well, there are very good reasons for going to visit a property you have only seen online or for inspecting that car before you buy it. Things are not always as they appear on a screen. (Which is why buying a house or car we have only seen on the internet isn’t something most of will do.) We react to the same item in a very different way when we are physically close to something rather than looking at a digital image. And this is more true of art than it is of almost anything except food!
“People used to get excited to go to a gallery, meet an artist in person and experience a work of art. Now, with almost every image an artist makes available on the internet, more people can view the work online and decide if they like it enough to leave their house to visit the gallery, or attend the opening reception, or just stay in to watch another night of reality television...
Viewing artwork on the Internet is like walking by a gallery on a rainy night and wiping the fog from the glass to get a peek. You think you can see the art but there is a barrier obscuring your vision — distance from the actual art piece can distort your perception”, (Jason Landry, 2013)
Would anyone imagine that they could get the same impression of a restaurant from online images as from physically walking in, breathing in the smells coming from the kitchen, seeing the dishes as they are brought out, watching the interactions between staff and customers and just feeling the ambience of the place? It is not so different when it comes to the experience of online art versus the real thing – a gallery!
For art lovers, this is the single most compelling reason to visit museums and galleries. They offer a multi-dimensional, sensory experience that nothing else can match.
But for both aficionados and those who may not have thought much about art alike, there is a long list of reasons to think about putting regular gallery visits on the to-do list: