Museums Make You Healthy, Wealthy and Wise, Says Science

watson_aicWe all know museums are fun, whether you’re solving a murder mystery with us or simply marveling at a colossal dinosaur skeleton. Of course, the thousands of hunters who join our public, private, and corporate scavenger hunts every year can attest to that. Our hunts excite the heart, challenge the mind, and bring friends or coworkers closer together through teamwork and hilarity.

But thanks to our old pal Science, we have numerous studies extolling the tangible virtues of admiring art. From improving your personal health to bolstering the bottom line at work, museum-going is a sort of wonder drug for your soul. Tell us more, Science!

Museums Relieve Stress, Depression, and Loneliness

watson_smithsonianartA slew of studies has shown that visiting a museum (or otherwise experiencing art) lowers stress levels. In one study, participants who explored a museum at lunchtime felt less stressed and exhibited lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Other work has suggested people feel better because art and fossils offer “an escape” or a positive distraction from the stress of the day-to-day.

Also, a museum trip can make you feel less isolated. If you’re lonely, a museum is the place for you—it’s full of de-stressed, upbeat people, some of whom might be running around on scavenger hunts!

Museums Improve Your Physical Well-Being

Strolling through a museum can offer physical benefits similar to those offered by playing a sport. Particularly among people who don’t or can’t exercise more strenuously, a trip to a cultural institution lowers tension levels and refreshes the body on par with physical activity. In fact, the London School of Economics has found that people value a museum visit twice as much as they do participation in a sporting event.

And then there are some museums, like New York’s American Museum of Natural History, that allow early-morning exercise walks through their galleries. Talk about the best of both worlds!

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Museums Stimulate Creativity and Boost the Economy

How could admiring a building of Picassos and Van Goghs not inspire the mind? Studies have found that viewing art automatically activates parts of the brain associated with contemplation, pleasure, and emotion. Whether you’re an artist or a marketing executive, you can’t help but engage your brain when you’re surrounded by sculptures and paintings. How’s that for brainstorming?

Beyond that, museums are good for business. The American Alliance of Museums estimates that museums pump $21 billion into the economy, with much of that going to small businesses nearby.

Watson Adventures: All of the Above

So next time you think, “I wish I were happier, or healthier, or less lonely, or had a great idea to wow the boss,” come to us. Not only will we get you into a museum, we’ll get you thinking, send you laughing, and keep you on your toes.