Dating in Museums: Art's Impact on Date Outcome


  • Svitlana Babych University of Vienna


Museums offer a distinctive setting for romantic interactions, where art and emotions intertwine to create memorable encounters. This study examines the interplay between people, artworks, and the museum environment, seeking to understand how emotional resonance with artworks in museum exhibits affects the overall outcome and perceived quality of the museum experience.

The existing literature on the topic contains a large body of research that examines the visitor experience in museums, with a focus on individual interaction with artworks as part of leisure activities. Ross [1] sheds light on the unique social function of museums in India, highlighting the romantic potential of museums. Further support for museums as places fostering social connections comes from Arnold [2], whose research explores the relationship between empathy, aesthetics, and the museum experience. The results show that experiencing art together can promote emotional bonds and deeper understanding between partners. However, there is a research gap in understanding how people interact with each other in the museum space, especially concerning romantic encounters.

"Dating in Museums" as a multi-part study conducted by the CReA Lab (Department of Art History, University of Vienna) is designed to investigate the importance of art in strengthening emotional bonds and increasing the quality of romantic interactions in a museum environment.

The methods chosen for this study are exploratory observation and questionnaires. We developed a questionnaire to gather information about people's dating preferences and their experiences visiting museums. Additionally, we host a speed dating event with 20 participants (10 males and 10 females with diverse academic and cultural backgrounds). Speed dating is known to be a robust methodology for examining initial romantic attraction [3]. Participants unfamiliar with each other are matched in heterosexual pairs to converse in front of artworks, providing a dynamic and immersive experience that allows us to observe how art affects interpersonal dynamics during romantic encounters. Each participant has one date with each of the 10 different people, with each date lasting approximately 4 minutes. Participants are informed about being observed and fill out a short questionnaire between sessions. The results are yet unknown.

The study can lead people to take a deeper interest in works of art and lead to discoveries in the area of dating and building romantic relationships such as initial attraction, interaction dynamics, etc. Moreover, by emphasizing the role of emotional resonance, our study highlights the importance of valuing art beyond its aesthetic value.


[1] I. Ross, “The museum as a dating venue: Couples in the Madhya Pradesh Tribal Museum in Bhopal, India,” Museum and Society, vol. 16, no. 1, Mar. 2018. doi:10.29311/mas.v16i1.2459

[2] A. Arnold, S. M. Meggs, and A. G. Greer, “Empathy and aesthetic experience in the Art Museum,” International Journal of Education Through Art, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 331–347, Oct. 2014.

[3] E. J. Finkel, P. W. Eastwick, and J. Mattews, “Speed‐dating as an invaluable tool for studying Romantic attraction: A methodological primer,” Personal Relationships, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 149–166, Apr. 2007. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6811.2006.00146.x