Even the most enthusiastic among us can suffer from museum fatigue - a term coined in 1916 to describe the all encompassing weariness that people feel about 45 minutes into a trip round a museum or art gallery. However fascinating the subject matter, however well rested you may be, exhaustion still kicks in. Here, Slow Travel looks at the phenomenon and the best ways to counteract it.

A sculpture of a man looking tired

What is Museum fatigue?

The earliest visitor studies were conducted at the start of the 20th century, and researchers discovered clear cut patterns amongst visitors to museums and galleries, showing that visitor interest decreased as their visit progressed. In 1916, an academic coined the phrase 'museum fatigue', initially to describe the effort people had to make to look at exhibits. Yet even when museums were altered to put everything in a visitor's eyeline, they still suffered fatigue and lost interest as they went round the museum or gallery.

Researchers in the 1980s found that "people’s interest initially reached a high plateau, then remained constant for about 30 minutes, and later decreased to a lower level. Visitors’ orientation changed from initial slow movement around the exhibits, to cruising around halls, and more selective stopping behaviour, indicative of diminished interest towards exhibits"

Visitor Studies Today Volume 8 Issue 3 2005