While museum space feels informal, it is far from unstructured. Curators and exhibit designers spend hours deciding what goes where in the visitor’s sequence through the space.
When visitors are provided with structure, they often make better meaning out of what they observe. Without some way to access the art or the information inherent in the artifacts, they do indeed experience “self-improvement on the fly.” People will pause for longer than a minute if they have a way to process the import or significance of what they are looking at.
Taking photographs may be a mindless tourist activity of documenting a visit to a masterpiece, but it may also be a person’s way to capture, absorb and connect with the art.
They Come and Go Talking of Michelangelo (New York Times)