A Boston University student ID has always had the power to get you in to the MFA for free, but just this semester, you can go the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum as well! Now that’s good enough of an incentive for most of us, but for the few unconvinced, here’s a brief article that might give you the final push. Three sociologists Brian Kisida, Jay P. Greene, and Daniel H. Bowen found themselves in the unique opportunity to study the relationship between art and the human mind when Alice Walton (daughter of Walmart’s founder) founded a huge art museum in Arkansas, where very few students had had access to one before.
Students who, by lottery, were selected to visit the museum on a field 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.
Now, we’ve had a few posts before about the benefits of art education and the power of exposure including links specifically pointing out the power of reading literature, but like Kisida, Greene, and Bowen point out, very little research has been done on the actual causal relationship. For that reason, this article’s implications are especially exciting. The arts have always had a difficult time justifying themselves, and it’s studies like these that remind us all the importance of supporting the arts, or continuing to be create art yourself.
And extra brownie points to anyone who can find all three of these pieces (all living right here in Boston).