and no, I did not just make up the term “museum fatigue.” It exists and it can happen to you, even at a smaller museum like the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.
See the article, “Enough with the ‘Wow!’ already! How to avoid museum fatigue” from lonelyplanet.com.
I agree with several of their suggestions, but I would add one: Know your museum visiting style, embrace it and make it work for you.
Maybe you are a label reader. No written word posted on the wall goes unread by you…at least for the first 25 minutes until your eyes glaze over and you head for the museum cafe. I would recommend that label readers prioritize the exhibitions you want to see to make sure you get your prime 25 minutes in the exhibitions that sound the most interesting. Don’t just start reading in the first exhibition you come across.
Other museum goers are speed walkers, only stopping when something really catches your eye. You folks need comfortable shoes and the ability to accept that not seeing everything is okay. My advice here: find an eye catching piece that is located near a bench. Use your time gazing to also give your feet a rest. A few minutes of sitting throughout your visit will allow for even more speed walking!
Some visitors prefer to see a museum as part of a guided tour. This can help with museum fatigue as the tour is usually focused on the highlights of the museum’s collection and has a time limit. One word of advice: make sure you know how long the tour is before you join in. If you are expecting a 30 minute tour but the tour guide has material planned for 90 minutes, your eyes, ears AND feet could simultaneously come down with a severe case of museum fatigue.
Museum fatigue is something we can beat, with just a little advance planning. Now get out there and visit a museum!