“How will a 90 minute art museum tour help me become a better researcher?” I wondered, as we began our session at the National Museum of Art of Catalonia (MNAC). I was not expecting an afternoon of group discussion, memory games, and improvisation, which showed me new ways of thinking about qualitative research.
The first art we looked at was Retadule del Corpus Christi by Mestre de Vallbona de les Monges. In pairs, someone examined it, then turned their back and described it to a partner. We used the “What? So What? Now What?” method, which is important in qualitative research. The “what” is the facts, “so what” is analysis, and “now what” is interpretation. The painting resonated with my Catholic faith since it featured religious images. This is my bias, which we learned is not bad when it comes to qualitative research, as long as the researcher is aware and can look beyond it.
Working together in a group of 10, next, we analyzed “Retaule de sant Pere Martir” by Anomnim Arago. This taught us another pillar to qualitative research, teamwork. I was amazed at how each person had a different first impression of the painting. Some noticed the details and the texture, others noticed the bold red lines, and I noticed the angels and halo.
My favorite activity was working with “Possession” by Joagium Mir. Everyone had their eyes closed, except for one person who described the art. We had to rely on descriptions and use our imagination to recreate it. This forced me to really listen and pick out what’s important to form the image in my mind. Attention to detail is critical for qualitative research.
Prior to this this activity, qualitative research seemed ambiguous and very broad. I was uncomfortable with it because I’m used to analyzing numbers for research. After an afternoon at MNAC, I am more comfortable with qualitative research and I’m ready to apply them to research and blog posts I’ll be producing during the program.