You Can’t Please Everybody

Photo by John Fischer via Flickr.

Photo by John Fischer via Flickr.

This past August, Mother Jones ran an article exploring the wonderfully amusing world of one-star reviews that people award the United States’ National Parks. Of course, sometimes natural beauty is not enough and people may have legitimate grievances about their visit—rude staff, dirty bathrooms, etc.—but sometimes people are just being irrational and write reviews complaining about how the desert is “too hot.” As a result, I was inspired to explore some of the bad reviews that people post about some of the world’s more well-known museums, and, wouldn’t you know it, our cultural institutions’ overall ratings are constantly being dragged down by confounding and humorous posts from the discontented. Here’s a brief look at some visitors’ complaints…

On the Insufficient Benefits of Using a Corporate Card

In a review of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Anthro Food E. noted: “…I did come in later though just out of curiosity, but with my corporate discount (free) card of course (since i refuse to pay any amount of money to see antiques collecting dust)…and after 10 minutes, i already had ADD…i wasnt interested in any of the fake rembrandts they had to show at this museum nor any other pieces of art here either…” Quite frankly, I’m surprised they made it 10 minutes.

On Being Lured in By the Swirly Things

Now, I am among those that think cramming a trip to the Louvre into your Parisian itinerary is a bit of a waste. Apparently, Franq F. of Los Angeles agrees with me, but for different reasons. Here’s his one-star review on Yelp:

So, like, we were so excited to go to this museum because it was on so many websites. Well, we were absolutely disgusted and felt so ripped off. They totally fool you with all the new stuff outside, like all the cool glass stuff and swirly things and new, clean stuff. THEN when you go inside, IT IS DISGUSTING. There is literally like all old things, it is dark and so, so old. All of the paintings are so old, they are cracked; SICK! Who cares, none of it even looks real or anything. What a joke. It’s like, “Hey, France, way to trick us into thinking it was going to be a new, clean museum but then we get inside and it is ‘tow up.!” They obviously lure you in with the good stuff and then you are in this musty piece of junk. Like, you’re FRANCE…a country; why did you do it on the cheap, why not knock the junky crap building down and start over. It was such a rip. Fail.

Photo by TMAB2003 via Flickr.

Photo by TMAB2003 via Flickr.

On How to Deal with Being the Cause of Environmental End Times

A few Yelp commenters remarked that the California Academy of Sciences was a little too on-message with the whole global warming thing, but Rob S. had a suggestion for how visitors can cope: “…the lesson that man is killing off just about everything and diligently working toward environmental end times is woven into just about every exhibit. If you wanted to create a drinking game geared toward alcohol poisoning, just take a shot every time you see a reference to global warming, a species or area being threatened by man or the fragility of our planet.”

On Staff Recommendations

Having worked in and around museums for nearly a decade, I’m not immune to the fact that museum security guards are not universally loved. One commenter, particularly displeased with the guards at the Met, offered this suggestion: “The security staff here can DIAF, please.” That’s Die In A Fire for those of you playing along at home. At least he said please.

On Backhanded Compliments

Clearly not a fan of how the Creation Museum can play a little fast and loose with the facts, Daniel T. from Denver offered up an exhibit review: “But by far, the best exhibit they have is a dinosaur with a saddle on its back. That’s right, a dinosaur wearing a fucking saddle…”

Photo by freeparking via Flickr.

Photo by freeparking via Flickr.

On Knowing Your Demographics

Museums spend plenty of time and money dealing with demographics research, figuring out who comes to the museum and why. Unfortunately, it seems that museum goers don’t spend nearly enough time considering whether or not their interests match with the institution they’re about to visit. One Yelp commenter has stepped into the void to provide truly useful information for those considering visiting the Vatican Museum: “…unless you’re religious or into art, it’s lame and uncomfortable.” Did you get that? If you’re not religious, not into art, and not into religious art, it might be best to avoid visiting a massive art museum attached to a massive religious institution that is chock full of religious art. Now you know.

On Truth in Advertising

When I first read this review of the San Diego Zoo, I felt compelled to find out if they were joking. Then I realized I didn’t care.

After an exhaustive journey I sat down for lunch at the Jungle Terrace and ordered what they called an ‘Elephant Burger.’ It was then that I learned the secret they don’t want anybody to know about: they don’t actually serve the animals that they keep at the zoo in the restaurants! There was no freakin’ elephant in my burger at all. Can you believe that!? What a ripoff!

On Existential Questions

Finally, back at the Met, Nathaniel L. poses this age-old question: “If you’re not allowed to touch the paintings, what’s the point in even going?”


Do you have any wonderful negative museum reviews, written or overheard? Share them in the comments below.


One-Stop Super Bowl Swap

Photo by John Hilton via Flickr.

Photo by Tom Hilton via Flickr.

Yesterday, Sunday, February 2nd, I went to work at a museum. It was a free day, and the museum was humming with new visitors, musical performances, and that giddy buzz that comes with an unexpectedly warm day in an otherwise cold winter. In spite of all of that excitement, I felt kind of alone: isn’t anyone else here excited for the Super Bowl?

I suppose I should preface my next statement with a disclaimer, so here goes—**WARNING: Blanket Generalization to Follow**—but, when it comes to museums and cultural institutions, this is generally not a community overflowing with ardent sports fans. However, even if a fair few museum employees remain uninterested in the difference between first downs and field goals, an increasing number of museums are happy to embrace the spirit of competition that comes with one of America’s greatest sporting events. What began in 2010 as a friendly wager between the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art—whose respective teams were facing off in that year’s Super Bowl—has now become a four-year-old tradition: when it comes to the Super Bowl, not only is one team going home with a trophy, but their hometown museum is too.

This year, the Super Bowl Art Swap participants were the Seattle Art Museum and the Denver Art Museum. The collection items up for exchange? A Japanese painted screen with a soaring eagle versus a Frederick Remington bronze sculpture of a bucking bronco. Since the Seattle Seahawks demolished the Denver Broncos in last night’s Super Bowl, visitors to SAM should stop by and say hello to the cowboy and his steed in the very near future. But, as lovely as these two pieces of art are, why is it that only the art museums are getting in the Super Bowl betting action?

Here are three Seattle-Denver museum matchups that could have laid an artifact on the line:

1) Flight Fight: The Museum of Flight and the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum
Between Seattle’s Boeing history and Colorado’s affiliation with the U.S. Air Force, these cities’ respective flight museums would have been perfect Super Bowl Swap contenders. Obviously swapping large aircraft would be difficult, but both museums possess smaller items of great significance to the story of the skies. For instance, the Museum of Flight could have offered up the mail bag from the first U.S. Air Mail flight.

2) What’s Mine is Yours: Klondike Gold Rush Museum and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Seattle was the launch point for thousands of prospectors heading north to find riches in the Klondike Gold Rush and Colorado is rich in mining history and lore. So, why not put the pickaxes on the line? I’m sure visitors to the Klondike Gold Rush Museum would be thrilled with a temporary loan of Tom’s Baby, an eight-pound gold nugget from Colorado’s mining heyday that is part of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s permanent collection.

3) A Historic Wager: Museum of History and Industry and the History Colorado Center
Both towns share a Wild West history, so surely their history museums would be ideal betting partners. Perhaps the History Colorado Center would have wagered their sculpture of Denver’s famous “Barrel Man” so closely associated with the city’s sports-loving ways? And MOHAI has a few artifacts in their collection pertaining to the city’s beleaguered sports teams that could have been offered up for exchange.

What art or artifacts would you have offered up for the Super Bowl Swap?



Museums Hardcore

This clever Museums Hardcore campaign is making its way around the Internet. It compares our modern day celebrities to figures from the past, when men were men and parrots were vulgar. Besides the Andrew Jackson offering above, there are currently only two other posters in the Cargo Collective series: Teddy Roosevelt vs. 50 Cent in the Battle of the Bullets, and Genghis Kahn shows Bret Michaels that the Rock of Love Bus is nothing compared to a couple continents of women.

We hope that more posters are soon to come. What two figures would you feature in a future Museums Hardcare campaign?

Marketing, Photo Gallery

Brrr. It’s Cold Out Here


Someone clearly thought this Titian nude could use a little help bracing herself against the Minnesota cold.

For more info, check out the full post on Neatorama.