This is a photo I took in the Old Masters Gallery at the Zwinger Palace in Dresden. It demonstrates the three difference paces at which people take in an art museum (you can click on it to enlarge it to see this better). There are those who rush through trying to see as much as they can (the lady on the left going by so fast she's a blur). Others stand for a long time in front of each painting (the lady facing away from us who stood without budging for the entire long exposure). And some are so pooped out by the whole experience that they just sit around on the benches. Which is your art museum pace?
I remember being dragged around to art museums as a kid and not appreciating them. I took the nearby Clark Art Institute and Berkshire Museum for granted (I have memories of childhood misbehavior in both of them!), and was bored by the Louvre and the Jeu de Paume in Paris, which we got to see when I was 14. How much has changed since then! Now, seeing the art museums is high on my priority list when I visit a new city. I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to see some of the world's greatest museums: besides the Louvre, I've seen the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
As for my pace, I tend to pick and choose a few works to stand and study or simply admire, and rush through other rooms, depending on how much time I have available. I could return to the greatest paintings (especially Rembrandt and van Gogh) over and over and never get tired of them. Henri Nouwen spent more than four hours in front of Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son at the Hermitage, and it totally changed his life. He writes about it in his book by the same title: "A seemingly insignificant encounter with a poster presenting a detail of Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son set in motion a long spiritual adventure that brought me to a new understanding of my vocation and offered me new strength to live it." Do you have any experiences of encountering art which changed your life?