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Slow News Day: Kimmelman on Museum Visitors’ Attention Spans UPDATED

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Art Buchwald, champion museum sprinter

The NY Times editors were so pleased to have one of Michael Kimmelman‘s sporadic contributions from abroad that they privileged with Page-One placement the peripatetic culture critic’s dog-bites-man story about the short attention spans of visitors at the Louvre. This yielded an opportunity to publish an appealing photo of 16th-century Italian paintings arrayed in the museum’s Salle des Etats (first floor, Denon wing).

Kimmelman’s Big Idea: Museum visitors tend not to linger long enough in front of paintings. Who knew? (Answer: Anyone who’s ever commissioned a museum visitors study and then tried to figure out how to get people to look closer.)

Hasn’t our intrepid critic (or at least his editors) ever heard of Art Buchwald‘s Six-Minute Louvre? In Buchwald-ian spirit, the Louvre’s own introduction to its 90-minute “Accessible Self-Guided Tour” alludes to the three objectives of the humorist’s frenzied art quest.

The Louvre states:

On their first visit to the Louvre, people
often want to see the museum’s three great ladies—the Venus de Milo,
the Victory of Samothrace, and Mona Lisa. As you follow this accessible
guided tour, you will (re)discover these and other key works and
reflect upon that indefinable notion of “masterpiece.”

I had my own six-minute-Louvre experience when I latched onto the museum’s guided tour during my very first visit to the museum. After taking a few moments to gaze at the armless lady, my husband and I looked around and realized we’d lost our group. They had progressed so far, so fast, that they were never to be found again…

…which, for us, was probably a good thing.

UPDATE: Yikes! Kimmelman’s article has elicited 419 Readers’ Comments! What do I know about news judgment?

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