Slow Looking Challenge

Slow Down. See More.

Slow Looking Challenge

How long you would spend looking at one work of art? Do you prefer to look at many objects quickly, or spend more time with just a few? Researchers found that on average, people spend less than 27 seconds with each work of art.

Follow the steps below to explore Two-Tiered Still life, by Severin Roesen. You may be surprised  by what you learn! 

What You’ll Need:

  • Paper (something to write on)
  • Pencil (something to write with)
  • Timer (or someone to count seconds: one, one thousand, two, one thousand, etc.)

First Look: 3 Seconds

Second Look: 10 Seconds

Third Look: 30 – 60 seconds


  • Compare your three lists. How many more things did you notice each time looking at the image?
  • What did you see first? 
  • How many different items can you identify?  
  • Where is this taking place? What are the clues that tell you about the setting and the time? (indoors or outside, what is the weather, what time of day, etc.)  
  • What do you think the artist is communicating through the object?

Connecting with History 

Severin Roesen moved to the United States after bad harvests, economic depression, and social unrest led to the German revolution in 1848. Roesen’s still life illustrates the 1800s idea that America’s natural resources were bountiful and unique. 

This painting was made while the First Transcontinental Railroad was built connecting the east and west coasts of the U.S. People, supplies, goods, and mail could now be moved across the U.S. in a matter of days rather than months! Today, everyday goods regularly move across the nation and around the globe. We are grateful to many workers—including farmers, processors, drivers, grocery stores, delivery and mail people, and restaurant workers – who help meet the basic needs of millions of people. 

Now that you have spent time looking closely at this image, tell the story. What do you think is going on? Write your own story about what you see!

Continue to Develop your Slow Looking Technique

Continue to improve your Slow Looking technique.  Put your new skills to the test.  Explore our collection, then focus on an interesting, new or favorite piece.

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