What the Art Museum Can Teach Us About Innovation

Credit: Hensley Media
Credit: Hensley Media

What the Art Museum Can Teach Us About Innovation

It’s no surprise that creativity is key to innovation.  One often has to see the world differently and think differently to come up with ideas unique enough to set the standard in an industry or products unique enough to become recognized across countries and cultures.  Two companies that generally come to mind first when we think of innovation, Google and Amazon, certainly understand the value of creativity in fueling innovation.  But where does their creativity come from?

Perhaps the answer lies in the abundant artwork that can be found in their offices. 

The work environment has a major impact on the creativity level of individuals, groups, and even entire organizations.  In fact, the design of the workplace can open space just as much as it can open the mind.  Google and Amazon are known for the design of their workspace.  Their offices tend to be more vibrant than most in color scheme; they include modern furniture rather than stiff chairs and tables; and their walls are often lined with artwork.  In a way, the Google and Amazon offices almost look like art museums.

And maybe the Google and Amazon offices were designed to look like museums on purpose.

I have long thought that art museums are a key source of inspiration—the type of inspiration that can drive people and companies to innovate.  An art museum is able to capture experiences of the world throughout history and preserve them.  Each exhibit is a snapshot of the thoughts and emotions of an era or a movement, and together they reflect our human experience and our human potential—our potential to combine our ideas with the tools and technology available to us to yield something beautiful.  In this way, an art museum showcases what makes innovation possible: our innate creativity.

Just as an art museum serves to inspire its visitors, it seems like the art-filled offices of Google and Amazon serve to inspire their employees, allowing them to tap into their natural creativity and in turn drive innovation.  Perhaps those who design the office spaces at Google and Amazon realize that the imaginative power captured within an art museum can be transferred to the workplace.  Just as art in a museum reflects our human potential, art in the workplace reflects our capacity to innovate.  Ultimately, both unleash the creativity we all possess and can use to drive innovation. 

With that in mind, maybe it’s time for an office trip to the art museum. 


What other lessons can we learn from the art museum—as well as the museum-like offices of Google and Amazon?  What inspires creativity in your employees and drives them to innovate?  Share your comments below.

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