Claude Monet, 'The Water Lily Pond'. Photography and Imaging, The National Gallery, London. Copyright: The National Gallery, London

Can’t make it to a gallery? A new study by Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetic has confirmed that viewing art online positively impacts mental well-being.

Scientists have long known that visiting museums in person has a positive psychological and physiological impact on our health, lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels and improving morale, happiness and wellness.

But the new report from the Institute indicates that viewing digital museums and galleries also increases well-being.

Researchers invited 200 students from the University of Vienna to take part in the study, showing them an online art exhibition of Claude Monet’s The Water Lily Pond from Google Arts & Culture and the National Gallery in London. Participants then filled out a survey about their reactions to the online exhibit.

The results showed that overall, the online digital art exhibit boosted participants’ moods. But the benefits were noticeably higher for those who were more responsive to art in general and those viewing on larger screens. (Those viewing on their phone reported less positive effects than those using an iPad or computer screen.)

‘Aesthetic responsiveness describes how people react to diverse aesthetic stimuli, like art and nature. The results showed that individuals with high levels of art and aesthetic responsiveness benefit more from online art viewing due to having more pleasurable and meaningful art experiences,’ said Edward A Vessel of MPIEA, developer of the Aesthetic Responsiveness Assessment (AReA).

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