Collecting Art Is Healthy For Your Brain


Yes, you read the headline correctly. Collecting art is healthy for your brain. Seriously. Some people collect art in hopes of one day making a ton of money. It is true that art has been proven to generate more value than the stock market over a 20 year period. Finding the right art to invest in often requires the same odds as a winning power ball ticket. Some people collect for more nostalgic reasons, like your child’s first finger painting or clay sculpture. Collecting of that kind is healthy for your soul. A story for another day.  Let me be clear about one thing, collecting art is definitely good for your soul, your inner being, and your life. That too, is a story for another day.

Collecting art is healthy for your brain in these five ways:

“I see it!”

If you haven’t exclaimed this in triumph for yourself, maybe you have at least heard another declare discovery. The first step in collecting art entails actually looking at the work. The brain increases synaptic connections when engaged in a thoughtful observation of a piece of art. Pattern recognition of colors, shapes, textures and objects also fires up brain activity.  Experienced art observers see improved cognition as their brain processes a greater amount of visual data. Motivation for a second look!

“A place for everything and everything in its place.”

Collecting initiates the brain processes of categorizing and sorting. Organizational thinking improves as we sort by color, subject, style, or historical period. The art collector may develop their own categories to organize works of art. Enhanced organizational thinking translates well for work projects and everyday life skills.

“What is that?”

Art collectors are known to be passionately curious about art. Often art collectors seek out more information about the subjects, the methods, and the biographical histories of the artists in their collections. Awakening curiosity is a well-known stimulant of brain activity and growth. The mastery of knowledge improves self-esteem and confidence, two additional contributors to a healthy brain.

“Ah ha!”

Collecting Art inspires creativity. The creative brain processes bits of information like memories, knowledge, skills, and sensory data to be combined in new and original ways. This is how we get new ideas, products and services. Artists like Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani are just a few who collected African masks that inspired numerous paintings and sculptures. Art collectors benefit from the same beginning sparks of creativity.

 “Do you love this as much as I do?”

Shared interests and passions about art are not uncommon. Brain scientists call these social bonds. These people connections been proven to be a positive factor in a healthy lifestyle and a healthy brain.  We see this kind of shared interest and passion around types of music; blues lovers, classical aficionados, or jazz buffs. The same is true for collectors of contemporary art, outsider art or historic pottery.

Collecting Art is Easy

Lucky for you (and your brain), collecting art is easy in Silver City. There are over 20 galleries and artist studios and many more artists who live in the community. You also don’t need a lot of money to start collecting. Inexpensive art works can be found at local events like the recent Clay festival or this weekend’s Southwest Print fiesta. Often you can find something cheaper than a month of medicine and your money goes to artists instead of pharmaceutical companies. Get out and exercise your brain…buy art and start collecting!

This article appeared in the Silver City Daily Press as part of the New Mexico Department of Health’s “Wishing You Well” series of contributed articles promoting healthy lifestyles.   – Reprinted with permission.