Installation, 2016, 100 × 100 x 35 cm, Wood, Spandex, Strobe.
 Spending Time on Art
Conventional wisdom among museum professionals is that art museum visitors do not spend much time viewing works of art. The purpose of this study was to empirically investigate that question as well as to look at the relationship that age, gender, and group size have on viewing times. Visitors to The Metropolitan Museum of Art were observed as they looked at six masterpieces in the Museum’s collection. A total of 150 individuals looking at six paintings comprised the sample for the study. The observations were of naturally occurring stops at the works of art. The gender, group size, estimated age, and time spent at the work of art were recorded for each encounter. The mean time spent viewing a work of art was found to be 27.2 seconds, with a median time of 17.0 seconds. Viewing time was not related to gender or age, but was strongly related to group size, with larger groups spending more time. There were also significant differences among paintings. Results are discussed in terms of how different types of looking patterns may be related to the amount of time spent in front of works of art.
Jeffrey K. Smith, Lisa F. Smith
First Published July 1, 2001