Exploring the Transformative Role of Museums: Enhancing Conflict Resolution through Art Interpretation and Mindfulness Practices

Giovana Enham
Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Porto – Porto, Portugal

Louise Palma
Transdisciplinary Research Centre “Culture, Space and Memory” (CITCEM), Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Porto – Porto, Portugal

This poster aims to share impressions about the exploratory activity based on Ana Jotta’s artwork Dormir installed in Parque São Roque’s garden. The main objective was to use mindfulness techniques in interpreting art, considering the contemporary museum as a space for well-being and reflection on global issues – and consequently, a place for healing in the face of current conflicts.
The activity aimed to (re)activate the arbor’s architectural space, exploring the connection between the artwork, its installation area, and Casa São Roque in line with visitor agenda. This approach sparked discussions about the artwork’s title and context, addressing questions about the museum’s political stance, the role of mindfulness in interpretation, and the use of architecture for engagement.
The participants were invited to practice breathing techniques and share their ideas and feelings about the object. Finally, they were guided through a moment of relaxation, with the aim of enhancing the experience of contemplating the artwork. The qualitative evaluation showed that the exercise effectively led the participants’ focus to the present moment, underscoring the significance of innovative approaches to mediation that incorporate well-being practices like mindfulness into contemporary museums. This fosters a refuge from daily stress, facilitates discussions on current issues, and transforms these spaces into platforms for reflection and active listening.

Keywords: Mindfulness, cultural mediation, meditation, interpretation, construction of meanings

Giovana Enham is a student in the Master’s program in Communication Sciences at the University of Porto, where she has focused her research on the field of communication and mediation in museum institutions. Since 2019, she has worked at Casa São Roque – Centro de Arte, where she is involved in communication, events, and audience mediation, and is responsible for the graphic identity of exhibitions. In Brazil, she graduated in 2010 with a degree in Social Communication and worked as an audiovisual and cultural producer.

Louise Palma is currently a Ph.D. fellow in Heritage Studies specializing in Museology at the University of Porto (Portugal), with the project “Ambience sound in museums” (2023.03275.BD) supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). She holds a Master’s degree in Museology from the University of Porto (2020) and a Bachelor’s in Journalism from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (2007). Since 2022, she has been a collaborator at CITCEM at the University of Porto and also acted as an executive producer and co-editor for the International Conference “Heritage Education In Action: Weaving Relationships Between Museums, Schools And Territories”.
Throughout her academic career, she explored themes related to audience and education in museums, having developed practices in the educational services of Casa São Roque – Centro de Arte Contemporânea (2020-2021), Casa da Arquitectura – Portuguese Center of Architecture (2021/2023) and Paper-Money Museum – António Cupertino de Miranda Foundation, in Porto. Between 2021 and 2022, she worked at the Museum Network of Vila Nova de Famalicão, in charge of Communications and Media. In 2018, she completed the master’s course in History of Art, Heritage, and Visual Culture, also at FLUP. Between 2011 and 2017, she worked as a journalist in Rio de Janeiro.