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  • Writer's pictureModhayan

How to Visit a Museum and Not Get Museum Fatigue?

I'm one of those who get excited about visiting a museum or an art exhibition. My excitement levels go upwards through the first hour, reach a climax within the second hour, then drop quickly by the third hour. I get museum fatigue, I start losing interest.

Losing interest in a museum that too big to cover in three hours makes me feel disappointed; makes me think of how many pieces that I haven't seen or could've seen and admired, and makes me think if whether I've made the best out of my visit or not. Especially that visiting museums is usually something I do while traveling, and visiting a museum again won't be as easy as one would think.

I had to find another way of visiting a museum.

The path I take in a museum, going from start to end, is just not the right way. In the end, we don't buy every item we find on a menu of a restaurant, don't we? Instead, we scan through the menu, skip sections, and chose the two or three items we want to enjoy eating the most. And that's how we should enjoy museums too.

So, here’s how I now visit a museum or an exhibition:

  1. Take a very quick tour, searching for points of interest without looking at labels (like looking at pictures in a restaurant menu).

  2. Select a starter or two, the main dish, dessert, and a drink. Four to five objects to visit.

  3. Go back to each object and spend as much time as I wish.

But then, here's also how I'd find my own interpretation and admiration to a piece. I usually look at the object first, and I read the label or listen to the audio guide afterward. The reason here is that I try to capture my own chance of exploring myself through the object and its content. Whatever interpretation I’d give to the object is only influenced by all the other objects and pieces I’ve seen, listened to, read about or heard of, and all the other things that belong to the universe I know. If the object is a painting or a sculpture that consists of living beings, I’d sometimes go ahead and create a story of my own that is based on what I see: the characters and their surroundings. Due to my illiteracy in art, I usually don’t have that much to say or think about the technique and focus on why this object tingled my taste buds. The more depth my own interpretation gets, the more excited I become about reading the label. If I read the label first, which often accidentally happens, I lose the chance of looking at the object with some sense of naive intelligence. The year of creating the object has a lot of influence on my interpretation, in addition to the whereabouts of the creation process, the process itself, and the creator. Add a vandalism and restoration story to the label and I’ll quickly shift my focus into looking closer to the object trying to find marks and evidence of those historic events. Knowing how modern media and society react to acts of misconduct; add theft and scandals into the label and I’ll just assume a higher monetary value to the object. Labels mostly exist in museums and exhibitions, and life and our surroundings are filled with objects with no labels. An object in a metro station in Moscow or a basement of a bar in Sydney could still make us stop and experience the work of art. An object in a metro station in Moscow will still have some context to give away even when the label is missing or is there but in a language. While a very random object in a basement in an Irish bar in Sydney could simply be totally out of context and could offer that pure experience of the artwork, free of predetermined influences.

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