If you have ever visited the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, the MOMA, or any of the countless museums that hold centuries of masterpieces, then you know what to expect as far as the artwork and the visitors. It is more common than not to see multitudes of people of different ethnicities, ages, and nationalities all harmonizing together at the museum to... take pictures of the art work.
I have been fortunate enough to have visited the Louvre a few times now. The first time I went, I made the decision to focus on only a few sections of the expansive museum, rather than try to see it all in a few short hours. Over the course of a few years, I have see the collection in its entirety. When I finally did see the Mona Lisa, what I really saw were 200 plus people with their fancy cameras taking pictures of the elusive painting. Being an art major/art history minor this is frustrating on some many levels, but I admit that a small part of me doesn't really blame these people.
The New York Times has written an interesting article on 'What exactly are we looking for when we roam as tourists around museums.'
People travel near and far to see a famous monument or land mark, etc.. and when you finally do see that place or thing that you have been waiting to see than you want the proof that you were actually there (to preserve the memory). Is seeing a painting or sculpture the same thing? The article says, "Visiting museums has always been about self-improvement. Partly we seem to go to them to find something we already recognize, something that gives us our bearings... tourists now wander through museums, seeking to fulfill their lifetime’s art history requirement in a day, wondering whether it may now be the quantity of material they pass by rather than the quality of concentration they bring to what few things they choose to focus upon that determines whether they have “done” the Louvre. It’s self-improvement on the fly."
I good go on all day about this topic, but I am more interested in other people's thoughts on this.