Thursday, 31 October 2013

Why Museums are Almost Always Not in my Itinerary

I have been to 30 countries since I started travelling in my 30's out of passion. I have 7 European countries lined up for 2014 and not sure if these countries are famous for museums that I may not be able to resist. This will be my 4th trip to Europe and I do not even remember a single museum that I have visited on my first three. That's how bad my memory can be when it comes to museums. 

So don't get me wrong if I seldom include it in my itinerary. I almost always go on a holiday for three main reasons -- architecture (old and new), nature and people. 


Royal Ontario Museum : Photo Credit : Sam Javanrouh

Just the same, I need your feedback on why I should or shouldn't bother visiting museums in any of these towns/cities and countries: Southampton and London England, Oslo Norway, Copenhagen Denmark, Tallinn Estonia, St. Petersburg Russia, Helsinki Finland and Bruges Belgium

The European countries I am visiting are beautiful in their own right, that's for sure, and that's the reason why I am so excited and can hardly wait for this trip. 

Don't be surprised why I am writing this. I must admit ~ I feel guilty at times. For myself, because I feel am missing the history of a country that can be found and discovered in a museum. And feel guilty for the country that I am visiting for not giving much appreciation for the effort of the curators and the other human beings manning the memories that the local people consider as a treasure of historical value.

So, there you go, my friends. Tell me. Is it worth visiting a museum in any of the countries I mentioned earlier? 

Now, I want to tell you why I avoid museums. Correct me if I am wrong. Your comments and suggestions will be of great help for me and our fellow travellers.

Firstly, more often than not, my schedule is hectic. I feel I have no time shuffling from one glass case to another scrutinizing the details of old artefacts and reading those little inscriptions that sometimes I am unable to finish. 

Contrary to some of the opinions that was written by CNN's James Durston in a travel article, Opinion: Why I Hate Museums, my reasons for not liking it, is a bit subtle. 

Secondly, should I bother bringing my digital and video cameras? Quite a few museums allow photography inside the gallery. But still, I cannot use my flash and tripod. So, what is the point if I will not be able to get a good shot of those work of art. 

More often, it is prohibited to take pictures of anything indoor, so if your intention is to visit museums for the day, don't think twice, leave your camera. If you insist, you may check the museum website and see if they will, as in the case of the British Museum. By doing this, you will know what to expect.

Thirdly, "You may not touch the works of art" rule. This rule reminds me of my experience in a fabric store in HK. I touched the material to at least feel the quality, but I did not have the slightest idea that touching slightly the local wares is an offense in this tiny island. These are new and modern items that touching is prohibited, so how much more in museums wherein they spent many years finding and discovering the treasures. 

It is understandable why museum goers should be very careful. By following the signs and instructions of security officers in the galleries, you can be assured of the best museum experience that is in store for curious visitors like you.


Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucern Switzerland
Fourth, the smell and silence is killing me. I can understand the latter as it is mandatory in most museums. But, what else can you do in a museum? Tell me. Aside from being quiet, you cannot take photos, cannot touch, cannot play, cannot drink, cannot eat, cannot chew gum and cannot be entertained. I can go on and on with a long list of don'ts which is enough reason to be disinterested. 

Am not sure if I can visit a museum again in Egypt, like in Cairo. While it is true that visiting the galleries will take you back to the mysterious Ancient Egypt, the atmosphere inside the museum is way beyond my limit. The long line of mummies to look and stare a little bit is really not for me, something that I can hardly tolerate.  

Am not sure though that at the time of this writing, the Cairo museum is already operational after the looting and burning of the mummies in the past months. So, you better check it out to avoid disappointment. It is so sad to think that this museum is just one of the good reasons why tourists all over the world visit ancient Egypt.


Cairo Museum in Cairo Egypt
I cannot stop thinking why in the world did I not like visiting museums although some people say that museums are for the intelligent, matured and cultured people. 

I know I can be in one or all of the above categories, but still, I must confess that, to me, going to a museum is exactly like going on shopping with my better-half. I do not like checking the shirt with its quality, the price, the trying and the fitting and re-fitting and waiting for the long queue to pay. Not patient enough to do this. 

So there you go, patience and interest are the issues here. It is not the intelligence and maturity of a person. 

I will keep my itinerary open for my next trip. I guess I will give museums a try, depending on what you say.

How about you, do you like museums? Don't you think it is boring? 

I will appreciate your views on this topic, I really do.