Through our collaboration, and with a large number of supporting artists, museum, gallery, and policystakeholder partners, we will engage in a first-of-its-kind program, focusing on the specific topic of transformation and art’s impact on individuals and society, with the following objectives:

A. CAPTURE and understand the scope and the unique nature of our art experiences as well as their transformative potential at the individual and societal levels in a first of its kind systematic, multidisciplinary series of empirical investigations.

B. CONNECT the empirical viewer-centered data to social and political concepts and perspectives of stakeholders in art theory, policy, and art education.

C. APPLY the empirical data and the conceptual insights to create a stage for producing artworks and art interventions that address transformations and societal change through art.

D. PROMOTE the transformative potential of art via policy, stakeholder outreach, and dissemination.


ARTIS, will empirically assess and quantify the transformative power of art (art’s ability to create lasting change at the levels of the mind, body, brain, and social attitudes) as well as map the general scope of art experiences. This will create a first-of-its-kind comprehensive foundation for understanding and operationalizing art experience, with actionable answers for policy and art-stakeholders and artist-led interventions identifying: What are the psychological processes of different kinds of reactions to art? What is the psychological and empirical basis for transformative encounters? What are the actual lasting impacts on individuals at the personal and social-attitude levels that might arise from art engagement? When and under what contextual conditions may these occur? What types of artists generate those transformations?

These objectives will be achieved by assessing art experiences across a representative sample of perceivers and artworks on-site in museums and urban spaces across Europe. We will employ a cutting-edge psychological model paired with a self-report method and advanced statistical modeling to categorize the specific types of experiences, and to connect these within a general “model of art engagement”. We will then identify transformative experiences (containing a specific sequence of emotions and cognitive factors as defined by our model and pilot studies) within the map and couple the behavioral approach with cutting-edge techniques for eye- and movement-tracking, mobile brain imaging, and phenomenological investigations. We will link the experience types and specific artworks to measurable impacts related to change on the individual and societal level (health, bodies, prosocial attitudes, empathy, perspective taking, stereotyping, and political outlooks), assessed immediately after engaging art and at the longitudinal level.

We will also work with our consortium partners and stakeholders (in contemporary art criticism and theory, museum directors, curators, working artists/educators) to identify a selection of specific artworks that are thought to particularly address this H2020 funding goal (“generating new thinking, engagement, and action in relation to contemporary societal challenges”). These too will be investigated and compared to our baseline data using the same empirical methods, matching the assumptions that such art should be transformative to actual psychological processes and lasting effects. This top-down (expert-driven) identification will also be matched with a bottom-up analysis, across all studied artworks, to identify which specific art or art types are most impactful, providing actionable comparative data for future policy and art creation initiatives.

We will couple the onsite investigations with a program for assessing individual’s personal (at home and at work) relationship with art. This will use smartphone-based experience sampling approaches to track art engagement over extended periods and across cities addressing the questions of community penetration, mechanisms of diffusion, and identifying everyday individuals’ use or reactions to art or whether art plays a role in domestic transformative experiences.

We will identify personality, background, and sociological/taste differences (using demographic data and self-report batteries). ARTIS we will cover mainstream art viewers (typical museum visitors) and both art-disengaged as well as marginalized (recent immigrants or asylum-seeking) groups by testing and comparing their experiences. This will identify key modulating factors or barriers to art engagement and its impact. We also match these investigations to interviews, focus groups, and ethnography assessments of artists and their working conditions, exploring contextual or background factors that contribute to transformation as a goal and output of their actions.

Back to top


ARTIS will also connect transformative art and art experiences (as identified in our empirical program) to the wider social and political context, identifying attitudes and conditions regarding art’s use as an agent of transforming individuals or societies, and assess historical, political, and cultural contingencies hindering transformative art. We will embed the participant data within wider understanding of cultural profiles across Europe by using personality, background, and sociological/taste differences relating to the propensity to engage with art and to have certain types of art experience. We will bridge the gap between empirical research and theorizing in the humanities on the role of art in society. We will thereby identify the potential as well as the limitations of our empirical methods.

We will identify especially the political implications of art for democracy from an art historical perspective and by developing measures for activism through art and related attitude changes. To this end we engage from the beginning of the project curator, policy planner, and art educator perspectives on the application of art towards transformations and social challenges and include those perspectives in our theorizing. This will be done through workshops, focus groups, and bottom-up policy toward the production of tools that can be most useful for possible applications.

Back to top


The empirical programs will culminate in co-experiment with artists, art teachers, and curators, making our empirical and theoretical tools available and empowering them to address societal challenges with novel approaches. In a series of workshops and co-investigations, with art university partners and art students (in Belgrade and at *foundationClass at Weissensee), we will take up the challenge of this H2020 call to create transformations in order to “generate new thinking, engagement and action in relation to contemporary societal challenges as experienced in Europe.” We will provide insights regarding what actual psychological stages are required for individuals to move to certain outcome types and how these relate to specific contextual factors and aesthetic and design decisions.

We will then co-create artworks and art interventions. These will be installed through our collaboration partners in host cities, and testing their efficacy using refined empirical measures. These interventions will serve as dynamic research laboratories in their own right, allowing us to both test the efficacy of the produced interventions and to create innovative solutions to the question of how multiple art stakeholders can be mobilized to produce transformations or address societal challenges through art, and will generate new tools and collaboration suggestions for future artists, educators, and planners.

Back to Top


ARTIS will also create specific actionable tools through bottom-up collaborative policy making involving stakeholders throughout a range of sectors involving art, providing techniques and strategies, based on our co-experimentations, dialogue, and the results of empirical analysis. We will provide cultural institutions (museums or public art funding agencies) with empirically-derived data and theoretical or pragmatic comparisons to quantify their impact and thus argue for the value of their collections for individuals and the wider society. We will assist policy planners or those working to address complex social integration topics to better consider and use art as one of their policy solutions; provide cities or policy organizations with comparable contextual models for arts policy initiatives. We will develop empirically informed curriculum at the art school KHB that could be implemented at different institutions as well (including an online tool box).

Through a series of workshops, art exhibitions, symposia, and a wide array of other dissemination activities, we will also create outreach to the wider public, media, government officials, academics, and arts-stakeholders communicating the importance, the quantified impact, and the transformative potential of art.

Back to top