Nick Gray at Museum Hack recently published this 2:27 video on how to visit a museum, which is surprisingly similar to how I visit them. I LOVE museums but my friends are often disappointed that I’ll read the introductory label and then just walk through the galleries non-stop. You might assume I’m just a “streaker” but just like Gray, it’s to get an overall sense of the exhibits so I can choose where to spend my time. I’ve learned you can’t spend an equal amount of time on everything in a museum so I have to choose what will give me the most enjoyment and the best experience. I’ll visit the galleries a second time, stopping at those objects or topics that most interested me in my initial run-through (but always allow for serendipitous exploration). Still, it’s hard to fight museum fatigue and mental overload after a couple hours, but that’s what museum restaurants are for.
I do something similar for historic sites, but in this case I’m analyzing the architecture and landscape to figure out how circulation, organization, views, and alignments are expressed through design (a particular interest of mine). That’s why I often become frustrated by guided tours of period rooms, whose slow circuitous crawl through a dozen rooms leaves me disoriented (and bored, sorry).
How do you visit museums and historic sites? What experiences helped you understand them better or enjoy them more? Share them in the comments below.