Woohoo, another customer!
<heating up kettle, opening hobnob tin, pinching jasmine tea leaves into ceramic pot, tiptoeing to carry down our finest porcelain set ...>
First and foremost, one has to bear in mind that any art institution anywhere is relying heavily on public support. But the vast public, i.e. those who commute daily and earn their keeps by the sweat of their brows, cannot really afford to support the demands of the museums. In order to operate a public art gallery, the institution needs much more than membership dues and admission fees. It needs the pledge of corporate [vis a vis steady monetary endowment] and governmental [vis a vis political connections and legal] support. To cut a long story short, a museum is, yes, just like an office--a huge and glamourous one at that.
In our trade, the curators empty their file cabinets, cover the Turners, Koonses and Fabres, lock away their data CDs and go to nude beaches in Greece or Southampton, New York in July and August. The museum boards take over and put on their favourite "blockbusters shows." Going to a museum in July requires patience and tacts. One can still see the beauty if you don't let yourself tripped up by the usual Monets, Matisses, Renoirs. [Hint: make an appointment with the research librarian at any major art museums and she/he will bring out your favourite artist's work--in a cool, quiet room away from the tourists.]
The summer months are also ideal for reuniting with old favourites. Try visiting the museum very early, very late (in some cities especially in Europe, art museums stays open all evening), on a weekday and go directly to the room that houses your favourite paintings. Chances are you may be there alone! Take a seat, look at the art.
In many aspects, art museums have drifted very far away from the populace. It is a sad fact. [Last week, while working at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (I'm an independent art curator and historian), I saw tour guides hurrying their fares into and out of the cafes, ignoring everything on the walls, ignoring also another visitor--a world famous one, in fact; yes, I wtinessed one guide pushing him aside--the painter Jasper Johns.]
Money talks, yes, but art comforts, no?
And one should never forget these words: ars longa vita brevis est.
<more tea and hobnobs?>