When it comes to museums, our ambitions and curiosity are often larger than what our bodies and brains can handle. If you really want to enjoy a museum visit, plan to only see a couple of exhibits.
Photo by sheilaahmadi.
Most of the greatest museums in the world are absolutely massive. You walk inside, determined to see it all in one day, but end up crashing after about an hour of browsing glass case after glass case. Your eyes gloss over, your feet start to hurt, your brain pays less attention to each display, and the other patrons start to get on your nerves (“Can you hurry up and take your damn photo so I can go read the description?!”). This is unofficially called “museum fatigue”, and it can all but ruin the day you were once so excited for.
Fortunately for you, museum-goer, there’s an easy fix: Don’t try to see it all. Pick, at most, two sections of the museum you truly, deeply care about and spend some time there. Not interested in fighting the crowds to catch a glimpse of the surprisingly small Mona Lisa? Skip it. Don’t have a love for medieval tapestries? Go check out the impressionists instead, if that’s what you actually like. After that, maybe hit the gift shop and bounce. And I mean spending an hour or less in there and allowing yourself to miss out on most of the museum. When I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art this past month I only went to the Ancient Egypt section and gift shop. It was awesome. I saw what I wanted to see, got to spend more time with the exhibits I actually cared about, and still had the rest of the day to do other fun things. I really didn’t feel like I missed out on much.
This might sound wasteful to some, maybe even blasphemy to hardcore museum explorers, but it’s important you manage your expectations, accept the limitations of your human attention span, and honour your burnout. I know you want to see it all – I do too – but maybe you can come back another time and see the other stuff if you really want to. Chances are you’ll try this two-section method and leave the museum just as pleased, if not more, than if you had seen it all.