Looking At Art – Is There A Right Way?

August 3, 2009 on 2:43 pm | In personal travel, things travelers need to know, vacation travel | 1 Comment

In today’s New York Times Online, Michael Kimmelmann published an article titled ” At Louvre, many stop to snap but few stay to focus“, in which he raises they question “Why do we visit art galleries and museums?” He mused on the notion that some interact with the art, while other take pictures of pictures. In addition, he included this provocative statement “So tourists now wander through museums, seeking to fulfill their lifetime’s art history requirement in a day, wondering whether it may now be the quantity of material they pass by rather than the quality of concentration they bring to what few things they choose to focus upon that determines whether they have “done” the Louvre. It’s self-improvement on the fly.

The discussion continued in the publication’s Art Beat Blog and the discussants had many interesting comments.

What you should you see while touring museums and galleries and how you should conduct these types of tours has been the stuff of debates for centuries. It is our belief that the question is even harder to answer in modern times, since we have witnessed such a proliferation of quality galleries and museums around the world. So much to see, so little time!

We employ several different strategies, depending on the collection we are viewing. For example, at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, we stopped and looked at every one of Van Gogh’s works that were on display, as his art seems to connect with us. At the Louvre, however, we use a different strategy, as the collections are enormous and varied. We look for the masters, famous sculptures and anything to do with Egypt!

In all cases, however, we take our time focusing only on those things of interest to us. We will admit that we take more time when seating is available, as it seems to use that pondering the details or art is something that we does best while sitting – of course, doing so also gives us an opportunity to see what are fellow travelers find of interest (spying is an honorable and important part of travel writing). Of course, we are always stopping and recording a voice memo, writing a note on an attraction or taking a photo (if allowed). I guess our style of touring reflects our desire to report back to you on what we see. However, we think that makes it even more enjoyable!

Our recommendation – tour museums in a way that is meaningful to you – after all it is your vacation.

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