More than one million people from across the globe will visit the country's oldest public museum over the next year, making it one of the most popular cultural destinations in Europe.

Spend a day at the Ashmolean and you can time travel through 8,000 years of history, piecing together the whole story of civilisation and providing a better understanding of the world around us today.

As a lifelong Oxford resident, I’ve spent a fair percentage of my years in this historic institution enjoying many a rainy afternoon among its collections. For me, voluntarily killing time here is one of life's little luxuries. But, statistics show that most people spend on average only 17 seconds on each artifact.

Started in 2008, Slow Art Day is a global event with a simple mission to reverse this sad trend and help more people discover for themselves the joy of looking at and loving art…slowly. Be it food, fashion or TV, the slow movement’s raison d’etre is to deliberately and thoughtfully counteract the fast-paced, unsustainable and impersonal aspects of contemporary life.

So, one day each year, people all over the world gather to improve their eyeball etiquette and ask themselves…who, what, where, when and why?

Beginning in the Baroque gallery, we’re simply told the artist’s name and title of each work, then left in liberating silence to navigate the contours of oil and come face-to-face with our new found pastel pals – spending time in the company of each canvas much in the same way the artist would have originally done.

Adjusting to this more appropriate rhythm allows us to deeply examine colour, scale, technique, subject and meaning. We all experience the same five works for 10 minutes, but experience many differing responses – where every opinion is as valid as the next. The works may be worth countless millions, but it’s not about their price, more the cultural value; they enrich our very souls.

From a Dutch still life, almost good enough to eat, to an 18th century panoramic cityscape depicting the milieu of Roman life, we discover a discreet self-portrait reflected in silverware and a simple washing line hung among the grandeur of empire – all by taking time to dissect the image. It’s like listening to a great concerto through headphones on repeat, until you've identified every instrument and fully questioned every movement by the conductor.

It’s as simple as that – the only goal is to finely focus on the art and improve the art of seeing. The most important discovery is that we can all experience art without an expert or expertise. And, with half a millennia of artifacts to choose from, the hardest part is actually deciding what’s worth a glance and which deserve a gaze. So, until next April 8, keep in mind the fable of the tortoise and the hare. I know which one my bet is on.

In the meantime, if you’ve little time to spare, why not find out more about the museum’s collection during a free 45 minute lunchtime tour, meeting in Gallery 21 every Tuesday to Saturday from 1.15pm.

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