Visiting the Lucy Maud Montgomery House in Prince Edward Island many years ago.
I was reading a CBC story about the new interpretative center opening in July at the site of Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s home in Prince Edward Island. Montgomery has gained international fame for her classic novel Anne of Green Gables. The new center which tells the story of Montgomery’s life has been designed to meet the needs of three different kinds of visitors- the streaker, the stroller and the scholar. I hadn’t heard of those designations before but they intrigued me. I discovered the terms had been coined by an Australian museum director named George McDonald.
My husband walks briskly through an outdoor art display in Merida Mexico.
A streaker is someone who walks briskly through a museum or art gallery or special event. They pay little attention to details, gather general impressions and may finish their visit to an exhibit without really being impacted by it at all. They are there to check the visit off their list, to say “I’ve been there” or “I’ve done that.” These kinds of visitors are also sometimes called fish because they just glide through the exhibit.
Dave and I were in stroller mode when we visited a history museum in Quebec City.
A stroller moves more slowly and pays more attention. They will probably stop at various places to learn more. They will absorb more than a streaker and pick up more details particularly about certain parts of an exhibit that catch their interest. They are there to have a good time but not necessarily to do a whole lot of learning. These kinds of visitors are also sometimes called butterflies because they flutter through a museum or art gallery or interpretive center alighting here and there to enjoy something that attracts their attention.
My husband Dave was definitely in scholar mode when we visited the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima, Japan.
A scholar is someone who is very interested in learning and reflecting. They will move slowly through an exhibition looking at almost everything and reading all of the textual material. You will see them lingering at certain points for extended periods of time. They are conscientious and diligent about having the full experience. They want to discover all the intimate details of an exhibit and ask questions. These kinds of visitors are sometimes called ants because they move very slowly and methodically and purposefully.
Posing with Russian author Pushkin at the Wax Museum in Odessa Ukraine
Learning about streakers, strollers and scholars got me thinking that those terms might describe more than just museum visitors. As we move through life are we streakers? Do we just rush through our busy days gliding mechanically from one obligation to another? Are we strollers? Do we take time to stop periodically to relish and enjoy experiences and events? Are we scholars? Are we thoughtful and purposeful? Do we read and think and reflect and question?
At the Museum of Modern Art in New York posing with Van Gogh’s Starry Night
I think at various times and in various situations, I tend to be all three kinds of people or a combination of them. I know I don’t want to just streak through life never stopping to stroll or savor, reflect and enjoy. But I also don’t want to spend so much time being the scholar that I accomplish little and never have time for fun.
Are you a streaker, a stroller or a scholar?
Visiting the MOMA
Feeling Sad About Odessa