The #1 Way to Enjoy Your Next Museum Visit

Apr 24, 2017

I need to let you in on the #1 way to ensure you enjoy your next museum visit, and it has to do with LEGOs.

Since we have been talking about museum visits the past few weeks, and you now have some amazing strategies to get into museums for free or cheap from my last post, you are probably ready to tackle a major museum full of interesting exhibits. Before you go, let me give you the best plan for making even the shortest museum visit delightful.

Theory and Fact

Enjoy Your Next Museum VisitMy son enjoys playing with LEGOs. In his nine-year-old mind, he’d probably consider himself a “LEGO Master.” Do you know a person like this? Have you ever tried to spend a whole afternoon building LEGOs? If you are like me, there comes a time after about 1-2 hours where all building and creative ideas begin to fail. I stop having fun. I get grumpy. I call this “being LEGO’d out.” My son claims that no such state of being exists.

Museum fatigue is a state of mind that actually does exist. The earliest study of this phenomenon was done in the early 1900s and found that museum patrons do actually come to a point of physical, visual, and mental exhaustion in museums after a certain amount of time. After that, their museum visit becomes boring, or cursory, rather than deep and meaningful. (Good news for us, as we don’t have to feel like cultural wimps anymore!)

The Plan

The number one strategy for enjoying your next museum visit may come down to the old saying: First things first.

Enjoy Your Next Museum VisitEither research a museum ahead of time, or look through its introductory material as you enter. Find a map and locate one thing that you absolutely would not want to miss. If there is a certain special exhibit that has your interest, go there first. If you must see a picture by Vincent Van Gogh, focus on getting to that picture on whatever floor it may be displayed. I know this goes against your systematic approach to start at the door and work towards the gift shop, but just do it anyways.  Go to your #1 exhibit first.

After you have gone there and done that, taking as much time as you like with it, you are free to enjoy the rest of the museum as you wish. You may wander aimlessly or choose a more systematic approach. If you are with other people, and there are different opinions of what is #1, make sure to see everyone’s favorite as soon as possible. You are free to enjoy anything else after that, but at least  you know that you have seen these at your freshest.

The nice thing about this approach is that you may feel more relaxed as you explore the rest of the museum knowing that anything else you enjoy along the way is an unexpected treat!

The Plan “B”

Enjoy Your Next Museum VisitDon’t have a #1? Take the opportunity to enjoy a “highlights” tour with either an audio guide or a docent. Check at the ticket counter to find out your options. By taking in a general survey of highlights, rather than looking through every single solitary Greek statue, you will come away from your museum visit knowing that in the 1-2 hours before you felt “Museumed-out,” you enjoyed so many wonderful things. Realize now that in order to not wind up with museum burn-out, you must drop the goal of trying to see everything.

Feeling that museum fatigue? Time to take a break, or come back another day! You’ve had a successful visit, and you’ve seen something you were really interested in. Leave curious and inspired.

In our next post, we will examine how to explore museums for longer durations and the strategies you can use to give your body and mind some treats along the way.

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Julie Rohr has taught for the past 20+ years in many areas of art and culture.  She knows there is more to enjoy in great art than just “The Last Supper.”  Ms. Rohr has personally developed a series of Art History courses that delights and engages students.  Her drawing classes have seen participants grow in leaps and bounds!

Both parents and students praise Julie Rohr as having a knack for presenting material in a way that makes it interesting to understand and absorb.  She is known for her enthusiasm and insight into the arts.  More than once, she has been proclaimed as “my favorite teacher.”