Confessions of a museum misfit

I have a confession to make.
I am not a lover of spending loads of time in museums when I travel.

I have a confession to make.

I am not a lover of spending loads of time in museums when I travel.

When you go to the big cities around the world, people will often ask you if you went to such and such museum or gallery.

Well, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like history and some museums have been incredibly gripping, so much so I spent ages in them (American War Museum in Ho Chi Min City was like a car crash you can’t look away from – horrible but fascinating).

But when it comes to room after room of artifacts and tiny print or audio tours of details on items, I will become overwhelmed at a certain point, and it is too much.

Now an audio tour I couldn’t get enough of: Alcatraz Island Prison near San Francisco, that one – with stories of inmates and sound recordings of cells and roll call – that was fascinating).

But cold, hard facts, well, I seem to have a pretty short limit for those kinds of museums.

Even art galleries, I will enjoy them, but after four or five rooms filled with intense images, I feel like I become overloaded and things begin to blur together and I know I am no longer retaining any individual impressions of what I am looking at, only some overall sense of awe and then, eventually, fatigue.

Go ahead, judge me.

So I’m not a person who can rote learn and retain information in that way.

While it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy good art or artifacts, after a certain point, I just feel like I’ve had enough and I’m done.

I do still remember vividly looking up at the stack of human skulls in the glass case outside Phnom Penh in Cambodia, at the “Killing Fields.” Now those kinds of things I have no problem remembering.

Or the shallow Vinh Moc tunnels in Vietnam, where Vietnamese people from two villages lived underground to hide from United States bombing missions for seven years.

But staring at artifacts in cases or on walls just numbs me after awhile, especially when you have to read little cards with dates and names on them, neither of which I can remember well.

So it was a really great dose of history and artifacts to hear Nicholette Prince speak last week.

Prince told some really interesting stories and legends associated with some of the pieces in the exhibit of masterworks by the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.

She gave great anecdotes and her intimate knowledge of the pieces really helped to bring them to life and give them context.

While the pieces she showed were beautiful and interesting, I am positive I would not have gotten a whole lot out of looking at them under glass on my own, and I would have gotten tired of reading little info cards pretty quickly.

Now if only I could get Prince or someone like her to tour me through every exhibit, those audio tours are not always so well done.

But do yourself a favour, even if you are not a lover of all things museum, like myself, go and take a look at the copy of her book Prince is going to put at the library of, her stories are bound to bring the pieces to life, and the photos are beautiful.