Six kinds of people you see at museums

Navigating the museum experience by judging people rather than art.

Natasha Kwek

Published: 22 June 2015, 1:59 PM

The following is a subconscious discourse that most of us share in visiting museums. We turn our culturally choreographed contemplation away from still paintings and art pieces and lay them on the living. Here are the six kinds of people you see at museums; we all know someone like that, or are perhaps guilty of some of these traits ourselves.

1. The #ootd people

#ootd #nationalgallerysingapore
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Armed with DSLRs, you would think these people visited museums to snap shots of historical artifacts or whatever strikes a chord in them. But instead of checking out the cabinet of curiosities, these people are more absorbed in their personal wardrobe. Their motivation for visiting the museum? Instagram. In essence, they are #NotThereForArt. Then again, they do have an appreciation for architecture and symmetry, so all is forgiven.

2. The pretentious art snob 

Paul the snob from midnight in Paris
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Poised, with hands behind their backs as they inspect an art piece, these insufferable know-it-alls walk on air, thinking they deserve to be at the museum more than others. Besides shielding themselves with garlic against anyone whose vocabulary consists of “nice” and “awesome”, another tell tale sign of a snob includes unnecessary hand gestures when attempting to impress other museum goers. Every second with them is torturous and you resign to a constant nodding of your head to their academic vomit just to appease them.

3. The freeloader

Take a break? More like a nap
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Sometimes the velvet cushions and soft leather chairs just call out to you. Additionally, many museums in the world grant free admission, so why not use this opportunity to spend a day indoors with air conditioning? The one place that freeloaders will not be seen at though, is the museum cafe that serves $15 sandwiches and $6 iced mochas.

4. The hogger

You know you want to pull a regina george on that hogger
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Oblivious to their surroundings, the hoggers are perhaps the most selfish breed of our species. They spend eternity standing one foot from the exhibit, giving you a grand display of their ginormous head. They either have a lack of EQ (emotional quotient), or find satisfaction in blocking another person’s view. Without a doubt, they are the most silently hated group of museum goers. They are also the reason why misanthropy exists.

5. The only-there-for-the-gift-shop people

In the hopes of someone noticing your tentative devotion to art, you pick up a monstrous monograph of Eugene Delacroix, maybe Bonaparte, perhaps even Van Gogh, at the museum gift shop. You know you will not read it, but fantasise about the compliments others give you about how cultured you are when they see it on your coffee table, perfectly polished. In the end, you settle for a couple of postcards. They cost a fraction of the monograph anyway. You could put that money you saved to better use, like on that pair of sneakers from Urban Outfitters. They would warrant compliments too.

6. The paparazzi  

Art for Instagram’s sake
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All eyes on Mona Lisa
Photo credit: NYTimes

It is rather hard to observe a timeless masterpiece with museum goers snapping away at ‘Mona Lisa’; trying to get the best angle, one without glare from the protective glass, finally acing a shot that does not have a bobbing head in the corner. Of course, there are certain art pieces that are undeniably more precious and thus popular, so there is a need for proof to brag to your friends that you have seen it. Who has time for ‘The Wedding Feast at Cana’, hanging on its lonesome opposite ‘Mona Lisa’ at the Louvre anyway?

The next time you step into a museum, be conscious of why and how you are visiting the place. Your motivations and attitudes ground not only your experience, but the experience of others’ as well.

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