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Doodle Your Way Through a Museum Visit

Sketching and doodling is good for you, even if you're bad at it. This is one way to connect museums and wellness.

Multiple research studies proclaim the benefits of putting pencil to paper. Museums can be an excellent setting for improving your mental wellness. One way to do it is through sketching or doodling.

by Susan M. Ward

Page of doodles and scribbles
Sketch or doodle on your next museum visit

Allow yourself to be bad at sketching and to do it anyway! Putting pencil or pen to paper is beneficial even if we have no particular talent. Be bold and tap into a positive sense of self by trying something new--and go ahead and be bad at it!

Studies show that sketching or doodling helps with memory, mood, and creativity.

Keep it simple

Grab a notebook. Or if you're feeling inspired, go buy a new, crisp, pretty notebook. Add a pen or pencil to your pocket or purse. And head to whatever museum might be near you.

Attractive fields and a wooden fence
Many museums have outdoor opportunities for sitting and sketching

The type and size of museum you visit will shape your options

In mid-size and large museums that are self guided, you'll find multiple opportunities to sketch. In smaller museums or ones that only have guided tours, your options, especially your indoor options, will be limited. You might ask where you can sit and sketch indoors, or you might go outdoors and sketch or doodle in the garden or in a field.

Chair foot
Claw and ball foot on 18th century chair from Philadelphia

What to sketch?

The goal isn't to create great art but rather to relax, try something new, and feel a sense of accomplishment or fun. See what catches your eye. It might be as big as the skeleton of a dinosaur in a natural history museum or as small as a piece of Art Nouveau jewelry in an art museum. Or, you could just sketch part of something--the corner of a frame around a Monet painting or the claw and ball foot of an 18th century chair from Philadelphia.

Sketch a little, sketch a lot

Stand and sketch for a minute or two in only one place. Or find a place to sit on the floor or on a bench, and sit for 10 or 15 minutes and sketch.

Just try it!

Trying new things builds our sense of self and provides a sense of accomplishment. Just try it! Don't hold onto any expectations that you're creating a masterpiece, but you ARE improving your mental wellness.

Have you sketched or doodled in a museum? How did it feel? What would you recommend to others?


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