Museum fatigue

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Museum fatigue is a state of physical or mental fatigue caused by the experience of exhibits in museums and similar cultural institutions. The collection of phenomena that characterize museum fatigue was first described in 1916,[1] and has since received widespread attention in popular and scientific contexts.[2][3][4]

The first person to describe museum fatigue was Benjamin Ives Gilman in 1916. Benjamin mainly focused on the efforts of museum fatigue when viewing the displays placed. Benjamin went on to say that the way the displays were presented caused museum fatigue. In other later studies, Edward Robinson in 1928 talked more about museum fatigue, specifically 4 museums that showed a lot of characteristics of museum fatigue. Arthur Melton provided more proof for Robinson by observing visitors decrease interest in the displays. In a more recent study of museum fatigue, Falk, Koran, Direking and Dreblow pursued museum fatigue in Florida States Museum of Natural History in 1985. While observing visitors they noticed a pattern of a high interest in anything in the museum for about 30 minutes, after the 30 minutes they noticed a decrease in interest. In 1997-1998, Beverly Serrell in her research determined that in less then 20 minutes people got apathetic towards the museum. Museum fatigue has also been used in zoos, in one study in 1986, Bitgood, Patterson and Benefeld observed Birmingham Zoo, specifically they focused on the reptile house. While observing they noticed that the pattern was different from museum fatigue.[5]


  1. ^ Gilman, Benjamin Ives (1916). "Museum Fatigue". The Scientific Monthly. 2 (1): 62–74. JSTOR 6127.
  2. ^ Bitgood, Stephen (2009). "Museum Fatigue: A Critical Review". Visitor Studies. 12 (2): 93–111. doi:10.1080/10645570903203406.
  3. ^ Adams, Stephen (2009). "Ashmolean Museum redesigned to combat 'museum fatigue'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Enough with the 'Wow!' already! How to avoid museum fatigue". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  5. ^ "What is Museum Fatigue?" Gareth Davey