Gracious Living Guide 26: Slowing Down in a Museum


Entrance of MAXII Rome

A recent article on New York Times suggested that museum visitors ought to slow
down the pace in order to enjoy and gain personal insight from their visits. The article also argued that often as visitors to a foreign country, with limited time and budget, the practical issues are more overwhelming than the ideal concerns. This also explains the commonly observed act of tourists snapping photos of themselves next to artworks and sculptures almost frantically (and at times annoyingly).

I enjoy visiting museums and I recalled the luxury of being able to visit many of London’s prominent museums regularly just to view a piece of artwork that happens to ‘speak ‘ to me at that phase of my life. However most museums in the world bear hefty ticket prices and not all of us get to travel to the same city regularly. Despite the odds and whilst there is not right or wrong way to experience museum, it is certainly worth the while to spend some quality time at certain sections of the museum that you are visiting and those memories may entice you to take another vacation at the same city again!

So how does one slow down in a museum? We have 8 simple tips to help you slow down and yet leave the museum without that feeling that you might have missed something that could make you say ‘darn’ over a post-vacation dinner with friends.

1 Research on the museum that you plan to visit
Every prominent museum has a key collection and of course a couple of famous artwork. While it is certain that every segment of any museum are carefully  and purposefully curated, not all sections may be of interest to your visit. Understanding the ‘DNA’ of a museum allows you to plan and prioritize your visit.

2. Art History 101
Having a good sense of art history and the politics encircling a collection may turn your visit from a wandering trip to a trip of filled with personal awe and wonders! Some collections in a museum serve to demonstrate the power of a specific regime and these possessions may have little impact to your art knowledge. Whether to skip them or peruse them, that bring us to the next question…


A gallery at the Vatican Museum, Rome

3. What thou seekest?
Is this visit a ‘check-in-the-box’ visit or you have other exigent needs, I call it the ‘art-climax’. Being clear with your objective is a quick way help you plan how much time you would allocate for each section and if you want to experience the art-climax at the beginning or at the end of you trip. For example when making the second trip to a museum, I may allocate time to explore the museum for new inspiring artworks and then catch-up with artworks I have personal nostalgia for during the break time…so that I may sit and rest in the presence of an artwork I want to revisit


An Installation in Tate Modern, London

4. Multi-Day Museum Ticket
A mutli-day entry ticket may be a good idea if you wish you take it slow and savour the museum bit by bit in great details (I may opt to this when I am at the Hermitage in St Petersberg for example). Staying nearby the museum may further justify such a purchase.

5. Skip the queue, go online!
Cutting down unnecessary waiting time means more time in the gallery! No maths needed. Some museums ticket prices are also lower if you purchase online…with the exception of Rome, the capital of irrationality. (Hint for the Italian Tourist Promotion Council: It is due time management experts are hired to spruce up the museums!)

A Jean Prouvé Retropsective at Pinocateca Agnelli, Turin

Reflective Me-Time at Pinocateca Agnelli, Turin

6. Concede and compromise
Unless you are visiting the museum alone, engage in a honest heart to heart talk with your companion on your purpose and key objectives of your museum visit. There may be occasions where both may split your route and spend time alone at certain sections of a museum.

7. Let’s get physical
For many, physical needs precede emotional needs. Hence I would not schedule a visit that may need me to interrupt for lunch if there is no restaurant or cafè in the museum. We are living in the millennium, why suffer for the sake of art! Have a hefty brunch or visit after lunch (and that’s when having a online tix or multiple day ticket is handy).

8. Plan your travel dates
Many cities run promotional events where one may visit museums for free. If visiting a museum in the city you wish yo visit is a key aspect of your vacation, it may be worth the while to coincide your visit with such events.


One comment

  1. Pingback: Issue 9 Vol 6 | ViTRINE

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