Skip to content

Influence of an Art Museum Visit on Individuals’ Psychological and Physiological Indicators of Stress

Research Thesis by Kristina Ter-Kazarian

In recent years, the museum sector has responded to the global trend of expanded awareness of health and well-being challenges. Although the interest in examining museums’ health impacts is growing, the field lacks robust evidence of measurable well-being benefits that would allow art museums to expand their social role and realize their health-enhancing potential for the communities they serve. The purpose of this study was to explore the potential influence of an art museum visit on people’s psychological and physiological indicators of stress, including self-reported stress, self-reported arousal, and saliva cortisol. A single group pre- and post-test approach was used, and data were collected through self-administered questionnaires and saliva samples. Thirty-one local professionals participated in this study, on a lunchtime visit to the Bellevue Arts Museum in Seattle, WA. Results demonstrated that average levels of self-reported stress and arousal were significantly reduced by a brief art museum visit during lunchtime; levels of saliva cortisol were unchanged. The museum experience increased visitors’ feelings of pleasantness, happiness, and enjoyment and decreased their sense of wakefulness, alertness, and tension. The results of the study suggest that art museums have an opportunity to strengthen their social role by becoming health and well-being resources for their communities. The study contributes to the research on how arts, cultural, and museum engagement impacts individual and societal health and well-being.


Ter-Kazarian, K. (2020). Influence of an art museum visit on individuals’ psychological and physiological indicators of stress (Order No. 28000169). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (2439664112). Retrieved from

Key words

Thesis; Art; Cortisol; Health; Museum; Stress; Well-being