Museum Fatigue or “Why do I feel so tired at Museums?”

Ever wondered why you feel so exhausted after visiting a museum?

If you’re anything like me, after being inside an hour or so, my feet start to drag and I find myself questioning whether this was really the best use of my free time. Intellectually, I know art appreciation to be an enriching activity and one that enhances me culturally, but physically it can sometimes feel like running a marathon. And I don’t think I’m alone in this conflicting range of sensations associated with visits to museums. I would go as far to venture that one of the main reasons for many people’s general aversion to museums is the tired and overwhelmed feeling that their cavernous marble galleries inspire. Indeed, museums are beasts unto their own right. One must learn how to handle them and mitigate their effects if one is to enjoy the art which hang upon their walls.

It’s a shame really, how many people despise museums and are adverse to art appreciation, and, I for one, wouldn’t be surprised if one of the contributing factors to this is something that I like to call Museum Fatigue.

Museum fatigue is the pain in one’s lower back after standing on marble tile all day. It’s the dehydration that comes from “no outside beverages”, or from skipping lunch in order to see more exhibits. The weariness comes from being overwhelmed by more colors, textures, ideas, and placards than one sees in one’s normal day-to-day life, and, of course, those notoriously obnoxious school groups. It is not an easy or light matter to try and wrap one’s mind around obscure or ambiguous concepts found in art, and all that pondering takes a tremendous toll on one’s body and mind.

The good news is that museum fatigue can be defeated so that we can all get back to why we visited the museum in the first place: ART!

Indeed, the purpose and role of art is to enjoy, to inspire, and to question one’s assumptions and beliefs. However, like with most extracurricular pursuits, what you put into art is what you’ll get out of it. So if you are one of those people who practically run through each gallery in order to receive a stamp of approval for seeing every piece of art in the building, then you’re probably going to miss out on the beauty or revelations that come from slowly and meditatively wandering through the building. Indeed, to fully engage with art, one must often pause, consider, reconsider, and, sometimes discuss the piece. (And, it helps even more to study about the artist and their life prior to visiting the museum. But, really, who’s got time for all that?)

Trust me, quality time with a few pieces is much better than moving at breakneck speed through each room. And because I firmly believe that art deserves ample time and appreciation, I’ve compiled methods that I have found to be successful in beating Museum Fatigue:

Go early in the morning, as close to when the museum opens as possible. There will be fewer visitors and you’ll have more peace and quiet as you wander the exhibits. One of the main contributing factors to Museum Fatigue is one’s fellow museum goers. Navigating around other people while also avoiding touching or bumping into the art, is exhausting in it of itself, and then add to that long lines for the restroom and noisy school groups, and we’ve got ourselves a perfect storm. Admiring artwork moves to the back burner when one is distracted by large crowds, the other visitors’ poor museum etiquette and loud voices.

Bring a water bottle with you to refill at water fountains. And then drink the water! It can be easy to get dehydrated when visiting museums due to the temperature and humidity levels required to preserve art and historical items that are counter-productive to the comfort of humans. While I would be remiss in recommending drinking water in the actual galleries, keep an eye out for hallways, bathrooms, and other areas where you can step out and take a quick sip at frequent intervals. Sipping often versus chugging half the bottle at once will help you to stay hydrated and reduce the number of trips to the restroom.

Utilize benches found in the galleries and take periodic breaks. No one will judge you for taking a few minutes to sit down and rest your legs on the furniture that is expressly provided for visitors to relax on and admire the art in more detail. In fact, you might find that you enjoy the museum more by spending extra time in each room and slowing the pace of your visit. I recommend sitting down before you start to feel tired or experience an achy back, so as to stave off the pain for as long as possible. Your body will thank you.

Skip the heels, new, or thinly-soled shoes on museum day. Museums are infamous for having very hard floors that are rather unkind to one’s lower back and legs, so wear your most comfortable shoes even if it’s at the expense of fashion. I recommend sneakers with thick soles (not Converse All Stars, for example) or comfortable boots. Also: take advantage of the coat check or lockers to drop off heavy items and outerwear that will be burdensome as you carry them around for many hours.

Break up your visit to the museum with a trip to the café, even if it’s just to sit down and drink water. Better yet, snack on a granola bar that, if you were strategic, you brought with you in your bag. Or indulge in a coffee, tea or salad from the snack bar. I personally love museum cafes and find them to generally have high quality food (with a price to match) and beverages for purchase. Being around so many people while also reading and concentrating on art will essentially suck out all of your energy, so refill and refresh half way through your visit.

Plan your visit ahead of time by browsing the museum’s website and try not to select more than six galleries or sections to visit on one day. Better to be under ambitious than to over exert yourself and leave the museum disgruntled, exhausted, with a vow to never step foot in one again. If you don’t have time to research the museum ahead of your visit, ask the museum staff for their recommendations or request a list of the museum’s highlights. When it comes to art, it’s better to meander slowly through galleries, taking your time to pause and fully immerse yourself in the art than to hurriedly speed through just to say that you saw the whole thing. Chances are that you’ll remember and get more out of your visit if you spend more time on fewer pieces than less time on more.



Post below if you have any additional tips for enjoying museums, and I’d love to hear if these suggestions help you more fully enjoy your next visit!

All photos are my own taken at the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, PA 

The Corcoran Gallery of Art at GWU: A Review

Located near the National Mall and White House in Washington, D.C. I’ve walked past this building innumerable times without having any inkling that it contained a gallery and small collection of student and professional multi-media, mixed media, and traditional media installations, prints, and paintings. Knowing that others must be in the same boat of ignorance, I felt it was important to write this review of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in order to help others that may be interested in visiting and struggled like I did to find concrete information about it online.

If one has spent any amount of time walking around D.C., you will have noticed that the Corcoran name displays prominently on various buildings and street names. Indeed, William Wilson Corcoran (1798-1888) was a wealthy and respected member of Washington society who contributed immensely to the development and establishment of arts with his commitment to and investment in 18th, 19th, and 20th Century American art.  Interestingly enough, The Renwick Museum building was originally built to house the Corcoran Collection but it ended up being too small in size and reticent neighbor’s prevented its further expansion. As a result, the Collection was moved down the street to its present location and received generous contributions from various artists throughout the first quarter of the 20th Century. Due to the scale of the pieces in the Collection, a Board of Trustees has been tasked with gifting the priceless works to museums and foundations across D.C. To date, 8,631 pieces from the collection have been donated to the National Gallery of Art and 10,862 pieces will be distributed this year amongst 22 institutions throughout the city.

More information about the Corcoran Collection here.

Entrance to Corcoran Gallery

Time Required? I walked through all of the galleries in approximately thirty minutes; I’m not sure much more time than that was necessary.

Game Plan? Before you even walk in, be sure to take a few moments appreciating the imposing lion sculptures adorning either side of the building entrance, as well as the beautiful door inscribed with the phrase “Dedicated to Art.” After checking in with the front desk, grab one of the floor plan maps and then proceed to the large first floor. When I visited, there was a laser light display and two flat screen tvs that were part of “Open: An Installation by Robin Bell.” Aside from that, there wasn’t much to look at. I then proceeded into a smaller room that was an offshoot of, but also part of, the “Open” exhibition filled with four stacks of cubes that had quickly changing faces of politicians at times silent and speaking. 

From there I proceeded through the doors to the left and wandered through the somewhat random assortment of galleries. Some contained student work, others pieces of the museum’s collection, and still another contained an ornate antique French dining room. At one point on my self-guided tour I stumbled into a student room with sofas, computers, and enormous professional printers. The halls were mostly quiet and I largely had the place to myself. I then re-traced my steps to the grand front hall and ended my visit in the rotunda. The circular high-ceiling room is full of light and select thesis pieces from that year’s graduating class of senior art students. I found some to be more creative and interesting that others, with my favorite below.

Admission? Free! You will need to present your ID upon entry at the front desk for them to log you in the visitor’s log. The gallery is open to the public Tuesday-Friday 10am-6pm and on weekends 1pm-6pm.

Kid Friendly? Yes, although there isn’t too much for them here. Unless, of course, they’ve got dreams of going to art school!

“MFA” (1968) by Edgardo Franceschi

Bring a date? Sure, but don’t plan on impressing them with romantic surroundings or a cozy cafe.

Cafe? No, but there are various restaurants and cafes within a few blocks.

Store? No.

Special Events? Yes! Since the gallery is part of the George Washington University campus, the museum is often part of school events and rotating student exhibitions.

“The Young Bishop” (1962) Fernando Botero

Stars? 2/5. There’s not much at the gallery at the moment, but check back later because they have future plans of expanding the exhibition space by opening up the top floor and filling it with works from the original Corcoran collection. 

Anything else I need to know? The architecture and building itself might just be the best part of the museum. Be sure to literally look up when you’re inside and take in all of the beautiful carved friezes, columns, rotunda ceiling, and majestic grand staircase. 

One of the helpful student volunteers suggested I visit GWU’s Textile Museum located in Foggy Bottom, so stay tuned for a review of that museum once I get the chance to check it out.

“Valkyrie” (2018) Rhe’a Roland


Address?  Flagg Building: 500 17th Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20006 202-994-1700. There is some but not much parking nearby, so you’re best bet is getting off at the Farragut West or Foggy Bottom Metro stops and then walking the ten-ish minutes to the museum. The entrance is on the 17th street side across from the Eisenhower Executive office building.

“The Lobster” Series (2018) Caroline Casey

Disclaimer: My views are my own and do not reflect the opinion or position of the Corcoran. I am not getting compensated in any way for this review.

The Oakland Museum of California: A Review

Located near the shores of Lake Merritt, the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) showcases art, history, and natural science unique to the Golden State. OMCA is a large, low concrete structure with multiple staircases, outdoor spaces, and something for everyone.

Don’t be dissuaded from visiting due to the city’s less-than-stellar reputation; in fact,I recommend giving the museum and neighborhoods a chance to change your mind. Because, despite it’s notorious reputation as a rough city, Oakland has a lot to offer both locals and visitors in the way of high-end coffee, trendy art districts, shopping, and restaurants, as well as parks and cocktail bars. Check out for more information about all of the great things the city has to offer.

Time Required? With three large main galleries, a garden, cafe, store, and additional smaller, temporary exhibition spaces, 3+ hours could easily be passed solo or with friends and family. The ideal situation would be to come in the morning when the museum opens, see half of the museum, break for lunch, and then visit the remaining half in the afternoon, ending with a trip to the store.

Game Plan? For museums on the larger side, I always recommend heading first to the gallery that interests you the most. That way you’ll be able to focus the maximum level of energy on that particular exhibition, and then move on to those of lesser interest as your stamina wanes and museum fatigue creeps up. Due to time constraints during my visit and keeping this strategy in mind, I began with the Gallery of California Art and briefly popped into an exhibition on ancient animal skeletons at the end. The photos of art in this post are all from that one main gallery. Unfortunately, time ran out before I could visit the Gallery of California History or California Natural Science.

Admission? General admission is $15.95, students and seniors 65+ are $10.95, kids 9-17 are $6.95, and children 8 and under are free. I felt that the admission price was rather steep considering it’s a state museum and the fact that there is an additional cost associated with visiting the special, temporary exhibitions as well as the Great Hall.

Monday & Tuesday CLOSED
Wednesday–Thursday 11 am–5 pm
Friday 11 am–9 pm
Saturday–Sunday 10 am–6 pm

Kid Friendly? Definitely.  The museum is spacious and the galleries are spread out in a way that kids can walk freely without coming into too much danger of touching fragile pieces. There are also historical and scientific exhibitions that would most likely interest them more than paintings and sculptures. Check out the events section on the website for the full list of family-friendly offerings.

Bring a date? Certainly! Especially if your date is more inclined towards art over history and science, or vice versa; there are galleries and interesting exhibitions for everyone. An extra special date would be a visit to the museum on a Friday night (see the Special Events section) and having a dinner/drinks at the food trucks and outdoor bar.

Cafe? Yes. Alas, I did not get a chance to try the food or beverages at the Blue Oak Cafe, but the website states that it features local and seasonal California-inspired dishes and grab-and-go snacks and drinks.

Store? Yes. There’s a decent sized store offering art and jewelry by local California artists, themed items for purchase from the temporary galleries, kids toys, and a great selection of books. There are more “trinket” and touristy things for sale than in most art-only museums, so it makes for good shopping for out-of-towners and families with children. In my opinion, the postcard selection could have been better.

Special Events? Yes! Averaging ten a month, the museum hosts a range of family-friendly events every Friday evening 5-9pm, events on the first Sunday of the month, special holiday events, and guided docent tours. I had the luck of visiting on a Friday and got to enjoy live music, dancing, and food trucks. It certainly had a very casual, party-like feel to it, and there were beer and wine for purchase, special programming, and activities for the kids. Definitely a fun thing to bring your family to or attend with a group of friends.

Stars? I don’t feel that I can properly rate this museum due to the fact that time constraints allowed me to visit only one out of the three main galleries. However, I will say that I enjoyed seeing works by artists local to the state, and the art gallery certainly contained a wide variety of time periods and mediums. I was impressed with the size and spaciousness of the galleries, and the layout was appealing and interesting. Additionally, it didn’t feel over-crowded or loud, which made the visit all the more pleasing.

Anything else I need to know? The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.


Address? 1000 Oak Street, at 10th Street, in Oakland, California. There is free bike parking, and parking in the car garage is $3/hour or $7 flat-rate for Friday evenings after 5pm. The entrance to the parking garage is on Oak Street between 10th and 12th streets. It can also be easily accessed using the rail or bus system, with the museum located one block away from the Lake Merritt BART station.

Disclaimer: My views are my own and do not reflect the opinion or position of the Oakland Museum of California. I am not getting compensated in any way for this review.

Dalí Museum, Paris: A Review

Located in the heart of Montmarte, Paris, the Dalí Museum, or Espace Dalí, is home to the largest collection of art by Salvador Dalí in the entirety of France. Boasting over 300 original pieces, this pint-size museum contains sculptures, paintings, and drawings of all shapes and size. Everywhere you turn, your eyes are met with a smorgasbord of artwork, seemingly bending, melting, and transforming right under your gaze. I promise that you will be confounded in true Dalí-fashion, and you will leave satisfied, but slightly more perplexed than when you entered.

Time Required? Less than an hour. The museum itself is small square-foot wise, however, it is chockful of art everywhere you turn. It winds around, maze-like, on the bottom floor of the museum with stairs leading you down to begin your journey into Dalí’s universe, and stairs bringing you back up to end your adventure on the streets of Montmarte.

Game Plan? You’ve got no other choice than to plunge down the stairs into the creative, mind-bending, often-twisted world of the best known surrealist artist, Salvador Dalí.


Admission? Open every day from 10am-6pm, open until 8:30pm during July and August. Free for kids under 8, otherwise tickets range from 9 euros for students to 12 euros for adults. Audio guides can be rented for 3 euros.

Kid Friendly? My inclination is to say no. If you haven’t already picked up on the fact that this museum is small, it is. There is literally little room, and the other patrons and museum staff will have little tolerance, for loud noises or flurried activity. In addition, sculptures are at various heights, and may look very “touchable” through the eyes of a child. With that being said, if your kids are well-behaved, will keep their voices down and hands to themselves, and can handle art with some shock-value, then by all means bring them along.  But, in general, I would not consider this a particularly kid-friendly establishment.

Bring a date? I wouldn’t recommend it for a first date, mostly since it’s a tiny museum: the other patrons will be within earshot at all times, and the quarters are rather close. However, if your date loves to discuss art, then this would be the place for you. Dalí is a master of symbolism and hidden messages, and his pieces are just itching to be analyzed.

Cafe? Not on site, however, there are plenty of cafes and shops nearby that are quite lovely.

Store? No.

Special Events? They host private events, but do not have many scheduled events that are open to the public.

Stars? 4/5. Initially, I was taken aback by how small the museum was in relation to the price (for comparison: the Louvre is gigantic and costs 15 euros). However, I did feel that I got my money’s worth considering the sheer range of art pieces on display. As someone who has frequented the much larger Dalí museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, I was impressed with how many new sculptures and paintings I saw in this Parisian location. As aforementioned, this museum feels a little claustrophobic and cramped at times, a fact sure to be exacerbated during tourist season. I also didn’t feel that the museum staff were especially warm or friendly, however, it is Paris after all; and I shouldn’t have been expecting anything less.

Esclave de Michelin

Anything else I need to know? If so inclined, you can skip the line by purchasing tickets online and securing a timed entry slot. I visited in April, so I wasn’t there during the height of the tourist season, but if you’re visiting during the summer, this might not be a bad idea. Group and bulk ticketing options are also available online.

The only restroom on-site is towards the entrance of the museum, and there’s really only one way in and out of the museum, so if you need to use the loo, you’ll have to wind your way backwards until you find it. I had to ask the museum staff two times for directions in order to successfully locate it.

Be sure to catch the wall of whimsical quotes at the end of your visit.

Unlike most museums where the art is, and will never be for sale, if you’ve got the cash, you can actually purchase a piece by the artist (after filling out an inquiry form online beforehand). In addition, the staff provide special services for those lucky members of the public that believe themselves to be the owner of an original piece, and will answer questions and provide authentication services.


Address? 11 rue Poulbot, 75018 Paris. Located in the heart of the Montmarte District of Paris, the museum is a short walk from two Subway stations: Anvers (line 2), Abbesses or Lamarck-Caulaincourt (line 12). To locate the museum, follow directions toward “Place du Tertre”. Dalí Paris is approximately 100 feet from Place du Tertre.

A blog post with the history of the museum and additional photos can be found here:  The Good Life France

Disclaimer: My views are my own and do not reflect the opinion or position of the Dali Paris. I am not getting compensated in any way for this review.

The Phillips Collection: A Review

Touted as America’s “First Museum of Modern Art,” the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. is a worthy competitor to its larger counterparts on the National Mall, and can be enjoyed by both tourists, locals, and art aficionados alike.

Most famous piece in the museum? Luncheon of the Boating Party (1881) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Photo above. Purchased by Duncan Phillips in 1923, for the sum of $125,000 (equivalent to $1.8 million today), this particular piece is just gorgeous. Even if you only have a few minutes, and can’t visit the other galleries in the museum, stop by this painting on the second floor, spend a few moments relaxing on the bench provided and appreciate the mastery of Renoir. While you’re there, see if you can spot Renoir’s crush and future wife.

Time Required? 1-2 hours. If you’re one of those people who like to read all of the placards, then give yourself a bit more time to peruse the galleries. However, if you prefer to move at a rapid clip, then you can easily get through the Phillips Collection in an hour or less.

Game Plan? After getting your ticket and checking your bag/coat, head up the stairs to your right and visit the galleries on the first and second floors. Depending on the calendar, the third floor may be hosting a visiting or temporary exhibition, or closed for the transition between exhibitions. After you’re done upstairs, walk back down to the lobby and visit the two galleries to the right of the cafe. From there, I’d recommend taking a short coffee, snack, or bathroom break if you need it, before visiting the permanent galleries in the older part of the museum to the left of the bookstore. Before you leave, be sure to pop into the bookstore for a quick browse, and don’t miss the art on the walls of the lobby.  If you have some extra time, there are interesting art books on the coffee tables that I’d recommend spending a few minutes perusing while relaxing on one of the couches.

Admission? Tuesday-Friday, it’s free! On weekends, admission for adults is $10; seniors/students are $8, members and kids under 18 are free. Visiting and temporary ticketed exhibitions, such as Nordic Impressions, claim a slightly higher price of $12 and $10, respectively.

Kid Friendly? Surprisingly, yes. There is a family reading room on the lower level of the museum, child-friendly art pieces at kids’ eye-level along with accompanying conversation prompts, and events throughout the year, all geared towards youngsters. More info here. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, other visitors are understanding and compassionate towards families with kids. At the Phillips, one finds magnificent art with minimal snobbery and very little side-eye.

Bring a date? By all means. The Phillips Collection is small and quiet enough to lend a relaxing nature to a first, second, or tenth date. You won’t feel overwhelmed by the size of the museum or break the bank if you visit during the week. It’s also not one of the most well-known museums in the city, so you may end up inadvertently impressing your date by demonstrating superior cultural knowledge of D.C.

Cafe? Tryst at the Phillips Collection is cozy, warm, and a great spot to re-energize between galleries. I love their cappuccinos and the quiche is scrumptious and filing. When the weather is nice, pop outside to the sculpture garden and enjoy a cool drink in the fresh Dupont air. For those of you looking to do some work there, free wi-fi is provided.

Store? With a wide range of post cards, posters, notebooks, jewelry, scarves, art supplies, and books, as well as a rotating offering of objects for purchase relating to the temporary exhibitions, the Phillips Collection store is a delight. For example, on my last visit, I found an excellent pencil sharpener at a very affordable price. In addition, the clerks are very upbeat and helpful, and it’s large enough to not feel cramped or claustrophobic.

Special Events? So many! From concerts on Sunday afternoons, to Phillips after 5 parties, to artist talks and family events, the team at the Phillips Collection is constantly churning out high quality, affordable cultural experiences. It is so much more than a museum, it is a team of individuals that aims to make art approachable and fun. Follow the museum on social media, or join the mailing list to stay updated with all of the wonderful offerings.

Stars? 4/5. I’m a huge fan of small museums that pack a punch, and this one has nailed the formula for providing a high quality experience that brings visitors back again and again. Between its fresh temporary exhibitions, to the rotating pieces in its permanent collection, to the Rothkho room, and then topping it all of with its cozy cafe and well-stocked bookstore, this is a museum that can’t be missed.

Reykjavik (1991) Richard Serra

Anything else I need to know? There is a free coat check to the right of the check-in desk and a place to store umbrellas. Also, free wi-fi is available throughout the museum.


Address? 1600 21st Street NW Washington, D.C.  Via public transportation, the museum is about a five minute walk from the Dupont Circle metro station. There is also on-street parking available (if you can find it), but I’d recommend taking the metro.

Disclaimer: My views are my own and do not reflect the opinion or position of the Phillips Collection. I am not getting compensated in any way for this review.