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 

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.

Nordic Impressions: A Review

The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. is currently featuring an exhibition titled Nordic Impressions on the third floor through  January 13, 2019 (that’s only three days away, gasp!).  Appropriately timed to coincide with the beginning of the winter months, as well as with Christmas (the coziest time of the year); this Scandinavian- themed five room exhibition was surprising in some ways, and did not disappoint.

The surprises: I was taken aback by the age of many of the paintings. Yes, there were modern pieces from the past ten years, but there were also quite a few that dated back to the 1800s! That, I was not expecting. I was also surprised to see that the majority of the works were portraits, as opposed to landscapes. What was not a surprise considering the Nordic nature of the exhibition, was the sheer number of female artists featured within the galleries. As any museum lover will surely notice, most walls and halls of established museums are domineered by the classic male artists of the nineteenth century; but not this one!

A new fact: I visited Olafur Eliasson’s Reality Machines solo exhibition at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden back in 2015, and had no idea that he was previously involved in photographic projects with environmental messages such as the one on display in Nordic Impressions:

The Island Series (1997)

An oldie but goodie: One of my favorite pieces from the exhibition was completed in 1887 by Oda Krohg, a Norwegian artist. Despite the fact that one would be unlikely to pinpoint the ethnicity of this little girl (although her blonde hair might be a dead giveaway), or know that this particular Evening Post was actually the conservatively-slanted Aftenposten of Norway, this painting’s social critique is still relevant in most places around the globe. In this particular case, according to the painting’s corresponding placard: the “newspaper disapproved of the the free-spirited lifestyle of the upper-class intellectuals, writers, and artists…[who] were critical of the Norwegian bourgeois society.”

In response, what does this little girl do? I imagine that after she overhears her artsy parents disapprovingly discussing the newspaper with their friends over beer in the living room, she prances into the kitchen, pulls out the largest pair of sheers she can find and proceeds to snip, snip, snip until the paper is in shreds on the floor. Enchanting, really.

Although, it begs the question: when is it appropriate to use children as political tools?

Regardless, someone please take those scissors away from her! Shes’s apt to lose a finger at the rate she’s chopping.

“A Subscriber to the Evening Post” (1887)

A warrior: Another way that Nordic Impressions defied my expectations was in the lack of Viking-themed pieces. I’m sure this was done on purpose in an attempt to show another side of Scandinavia- one that isn’t filled by men with shields and maidens with braids. But the only one that even makes a slight nod to the ancient myths or the fighting days of old, is the painting in the featured image above. This painting titled “Warrior Maiden” (1964) by Johannes S. Kjarval displays a fluid female creature clutching a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. I was struck by her watery nature and the fact that she is simultaneously resisting and being nonresistant all in one fell swoop. Fighting to protect her people, perhaps?

Not your grandmother’s wall hanging: The exhibition also featured three films and three installations, my favorite of which is pictured below. With its floor-to-ceiling drippings of thread and wooden dowels arranged in multiple levels of “Vs”, this large wall hanging easily dwarfed all of the other works in the gallery and commanded my immediate attention upon entering the room. The highlight for me though was catching glimpses of the movements of people as they crept around its perimeter, peering up and inwards trying to grasp its colorful secrets.

“Crossing Paths” (2014) Outi Pieski

Other notable pieces:

Nordic Impressions, the basics:

Time required? 30-45 minutes (depends on if you’re a “reader” or not, and will sit/stand still long enough to watch the entire length of a video)

Kid friendly? Yes. They even have a kids drawing activity! Very Scandinavian of them.

Admission? $12 for adults, $10 for students/seniors; members and youth under 18 are free.

Address? 1600 21st Street NW Washington, D.C. ( less than a five minute walk from the Dupont Circle metro station)

Stars? 3.5/5 stars. It was fairly small and didn’t blow me away. While I very much enjoyed some of the pieces, I’ve been much more impressed with some of the collections in these countries’ capitals than I was with the pieces selected to participate in this exhibition. All that is to say, I feel like the curator could have done better and it fell short of my expectations.

Note: Even if you can’t make it to the PC before the Nordic Impressions exhibition closes its doors, I still highly recommend a visit to the museum if you’re in the area. Go during the week (Tue-Fri) for free admission and catch some of the wonderful pieces on viewing from the permanent collection.