Museums, Do or Don't?

With all the travelling that I do, and all the adventure that I undertake, I feel that I should make the effort to get to know a place quite well, especially when there is so much history here in Europe. I should learn about it, and I do try, but...

I have a confession to make.




I don't really like museums.

There are varying reasons for this. As I said to begin with, I want to know about people, places and their history, but I often find museums very boring. I don't like the constant lines of exhibits, with a boring explanation. It reminds of boring, dull school trips when I was a child, and then I become easily distracted and bored. Recapturing my attention once I've wandered across into boredom is pretty hard.

In Amsterdam I stayed just behind Museumplein. On my very doorstep there was the Van Gogh Museum, and the Rijksmuseum. I went to the Van Gogh museum an hour before it closed and, for me, that was enough time to see everything I wanted to. What did I get out it? Not a lot, I'm not an art lover, I don't know how to appreciate things like that. Though, I got to see the Sunflowers in person. I didn't even bother to venture to the Rijksmuseum.

Why?

Well, it was under construction, and the sign outside said that more than 33% of the museum was out of bounds, yet the admission price had no discount, and I quite simply refused to pay full price to get into somewhere and only be able to see two thirds of it. That sounded like a rip off museum, and I don't even feel like I missed out.



To the contrary, I really enjoyed visiting the Anne Frank House. It was heart breaking, and sad, and surreal to be stood where she had spent years hiding. Another museum I found really interesting was Casa Batlló, which I would recommend over La Sagrada any day of the week. Both are designed by architect Antoní Gaudi, and both are absolutely spectacular, but if you've only got limited funds, I would go in Casa Batlló instead of the church. I found the interior disappointing in comparison to the exterior, the external work is absolutely something else.



More recently I visited the Jewish History Museum in Berlin, and I absolutely hated it. My reasons? The audio guide. It was long, and drawn out, there was weird music breaking up the incredibly mundane speech- which actually did nothing except to make the whole thing a damn sight longer. We were there for more than 3hrs, and we came out incredibly depressed. I would also say that around 80% of the museum is about pre- WWII history, and all of which is incredibly sad. By the time you get to that bit, and you've already heard how tough life is in Germany for Jew's, without the horrors of Auschwitz and other death camps they were sent to across Europe. I actually stopped listening to the audio guide before I got to that bit and scanned the walls for information instead.

The one exhibit I enjoyed in the Jewish Museum

There are still museums I want to visit, including The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb and La Pedrera in Barcelona. I think they are both places that will interest me, at least I hope they are, if not you'll be checking back in a couple of months when I am, again, writing about how bad I am visiting museums!

Do you visit museums when you travel? Do you enjoy it? What has been your best/ worst experience?




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Comments

  1. I am very selective in which museums I go to... There's just not enough time for everything! :)

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    1. This is very true, there isn't.... but sometimes they're simply too boring for me ;)

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  2. I totally agree. I'm not a big museum person either...I'll do one, maybe two on a trip. I do want to do the Broken Relationship museum...it just sounds different!

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    1. Thanks, C, I just find some of them so boring. I think it's more the ones that all about exhibits, as opposed to places where things happened that I so dislike.

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  3. Like you I prefer people and places and immersing myself in culture than visiting museums. For that Google are great. A don'y now about art or sculpture enough to really appreciate the real thing. We travel a lot and I do see many museums. I love churches though. Just because we always lit a candle for my daughter who died eight years ago. A spiritual thing. But like I said, I'd rather visit a lemon orchid.
    Patricia
    http://mojitoandme.com
    from Sunday Traveler

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    1. That's really sad to hear about your daughter, but it is a beautiful idea to light a candle for her in churches. Since writing this, I have visited York minster, and was there for 3 hrs. It's beautiful- and you could light a candle there, too, if you choose to visit. But museums... they just don't suit my attention span... ;)

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  4. There are museums and there are museums! If I only have a weekend in a place I'll rarely go into one as I prefer to just soak up the atmosphere on the streets, but if I'm somewhere for longer than I ususally do go into some. It all depends on circumstances and I agree with BavarianSojourn, there's not enough time for everything. #SundayTraveler

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    1. I can *kind of* see what you mean, by there are museums and there are museums. I think I like small ones that tell what you need to know and do it well and then there are those that are too big, have too much to see and are VERY depressing (a la Jewish Museum)... like you shouldn't *need* to spend 3hrs in a museum. I think, overall, I prefer seeing a place where something has happened (anne frank house, auschwitz, the east side gallery) than a room full of exhibits.

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  5. I completely agree with this... I find museums to be boring too, because I don't want to just look at things and read information off a placard. And I have to admit that a lot of art museums are really boring to me as well. But there are some museums I'm more interested in (like I do want to see Anne Frank's house, and Auschwitz this summer). I prefer getting to know a city through the places and people too!

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    1. Yay! At least someone see's my side ;) I found Anne Frank really interesting- and quite sad, too. Walking around her bedroom with pictures pasted to the walls, so sad! Kind of surreal to be stood where the most famous little girl in the world had once been stood.

      I wrote about my visit to Auschwitz here: http://www.wanderlustin.co.uk/2014/03/a-cry-of-despair-auschwitz-birkenau.html

      Personally, I think everyone needs to go there once to experience it and to remember. It's awful- prepare to cry, especially if you go to both camps. You'll never go to another death camp again. But you should go for sure.

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  6. I'm a fan and have visited many you've mentioned, but everyone has something that floats his or her boat. I do my research first then decide on what and I want to see. I never do the audio tours and make it my own journey, even if it is just an hour. Everyone has a story, and the museums are there to tell it for those who are no longer with us. Many cities and their people are shaped by the history that went down throughtime time. So many times museums are there to capture and translate that history. I appreciate them more than I can say. -Heather, Life of a Traveling Navy Wife

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    1. Yeah, I get where you're coming from. And, like you said everyone has something that floats their boats. I just think some of the more.... traditional style museums aren't for me.

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  7. I haven't really been to a museum I was incredibly bored at or thought I was getting ripped off but I always choose which ones highly interest me and research it beforehand. Plus I love history and learning about it. I can definitely see why one would get bored and feel like they're in school.

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    1. I don't think I have been ripped off, but when I went to Amsterdam and more than a third of the Rijksmuseum was closed for improvement works the ticket price remained the same. It wasn't like one or two exhibitions were out on loan, it was a huge chunk of the museum, and I just feel that amount being out of action warrants a discount- even of a couple of € to acknowledge it, y'know?

      I enjoy history, too, but I just think there are better ways to learn about it, sometimes... :)

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  8. I agree. I just went to Chicago and breezed through the art museum, making sure I saw what I wanted to but when it came to the paintings - eh I've seen them before in books - seeing the actual paint strokes wasn't life changing.

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    1. I think I might appreciate having been to the Van Gogh museum when I'm older, but at the moment... I didn't really appreciate it. I'm not a great art lover so to me it doesn't matter so much.

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  9. I actually really enjoy museums, but it has to be a topic that I'm really interested in. And there's really no sense in going to a museum because you think you have to go or it's something you have to do. If it really doesn't interest you, you would be better off spending your time somewhere that does! Especially if you have limited time in an area!

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    1. Yeah, I agree with that. I, still think that some museums could be done a whole lot better- or a be a whole lot more interesting.

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  10. It depends on the museum and what the exhibits are. When time is very limited I prefer seeing other things then spending my time inside a museum.

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    1. For sure, there are more sights to see than just museums ;)

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  11. I like museums for the most part, but I really don't like museums that have a full block of text on the walls and you need to read it all. I'm sure there are plenty of ways to display the same info - just make it more interesting and engaging! I think I went to the Jewish History Museum in Berlin too and agree, it was pretty boring. I think I skipped most of the audio and just wandered, reading the signs. I really liked the van Gogh museum, but I've been a fan of him since I was a kid. Most art museums I just skip, or only go to see the highlights. I'll probably never go to the Louvre or the Met again. I really like natural history museums for some reason. And dinosaurs. They're the best :D

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    1. I don't think I'll ever go to the Louvre.
      I *want* to go to the natural history museum some day and I also really want to go to Exploratorium in SF when I eventually go there. Glad someone agree's with me about the Jewish museum!
      And, it's so true, I don't know how I'd do it but surely the point of these places to engage people and make them interested, and not just be there paying their admission fee because they feel like it's something they have to see?!

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  12. lol, what a confession to make :). We are still recovering from our last museum visit ten years ago. Just kidding, or half-kidding. We still visit museums depending on where we travel, but they are usually not what we remember the most from our travels. We enjoy much more exploring the streets, the architecture, green markets, restaurants, and just feeling the vibe of the city we are visiting.

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    1. They gotta be good, right? Not just going for the sake of going because you feel you have to. Generally I prefer things that are a little quirky or places where things have happened instead of a place full to the brim of exhibits that the friend of the wife of the Uncle of Van Gogh found in their attic one time that may- or may not- have anything to do with the artist. Bleurgh!!

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  13. Museums are very much a hit or miss for me. Nothing wrong with that! Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler!

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    1. No, you gotta do your own thing, haven't you? Sometimes I feel you get pressured into going to places because other bloggers have, or because it's in all the info you read about a place.

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