Last week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art won the right to charge its patrons a mandatory entrance fee. After years of sheepishly skirting the “recommended” donation for admission with a few crumpled dollar bills, New Yorkers may soon have to pay $25 or more to get their culture on.
After this was announced, I watched as everybody and their mother (in some cases, I mean this literally — hi, my friends’ moms) took to Facebook and Twitter to share how much they love the Met and go there all the time and how this will really cut into their budgets. As a poor person who’s had great experiences at the Met, I wholeheartedly agree that this news is disappointing. I am nevertheless calling bullshit on all of you.
Please stop talking about how much you love museums — especially on your online dating profile. Museums have become this millennium’s long walks on the beach. Listing “museums” in your interests is lazy at best and disingenuous at worst, a cheap metonym for intelligence and sophistication.
Saying you do or don’t like museums makes no sense. That’s like saying you do or don’t like “music” as if Wagner’s The Ring Cycle and “Wrecking Ball” are the exact same thing. A museum is, definitively, a building filled with stuff that somebody picked out for you to look at, be the subject art, elevators, history, or medical abnormalities. There are Stuff Buildings you’ll love, whether by virtue of your interest in its particular brand of stuff or perhaps the skill with which that stuff was selected. There are others that will hold no appeal for you. In fact, some museums are, empirically, awful. This is absolutely fine. You are not on a field trip and forced to look at dusty antique clocks for no good reason. You are an adult, with preferences and tastes particular to yourself. Somewhere out there, there is a Stuff Building (many Stuff Buildings, in fact) you’ll enjoy visiting. Even if you’ve made it your life’s mission to keep your brain blissfully fact-free, there’s a museum for you, too.
Realistically, all the standing, walking, staring, and thinking we do in the course of a typical museum experience is exhausting. And visiting the same one too often would get boring pretty fast. Unless you are a) employed at a museum, b) in graduate school, c) an artist, d) an eccentric elderly socialite, e) mentally ill or f) some combination of the above, you are lying about — or at least willfully misrepresenting — how often you visit them. Our busy schedules of watching TV shows, DVR-ing TV shows we’ll never get around to watching, and eating artificial cheese-based snack foods are much too full as it is.
By all means, go to museums, as many as you like. I genuinely hope (and expect) you’ll have a wonderful time. But think twice before you add your “love” for them to your dating profile. If you’re really, legitimately moved by a particular artist, historical era, or subset of medical abnormalities, why not write about that instead? Specifics are what is going to make you interesting, and saying you’re into “museums” — well, you might as well just say, “I like stuff.”