Sloane Crosley: 'Going to a museum is one of the more tiring things one can do'

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The Independent Online

It is one of the more perplexing things, living in a city and never going to that city. I, for instance, live in New York. But I rarely "go there". Not to the street corners with the pretzel stands and the overpriced water, or the tiled Imagine Circle to memorialise John Lennon (who was actually shot outside the Dakota building across the street), nor down 5th Avenue to go window shopping.

Like most citizens of popular and international urban centres, I don't take advantage of the cultural opportunities. Perhaps this comes from growing up in suburbia. Home is where you eat, sleep, read, watch television and ignore your parents. It is not where you go to the ballet and then attend a heated panel discussion about it afterwards.

So the other day, I decided to take a trip to my own town. I went up and east to the Guggenheim and the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Going to a museum is one of those inexplicably tiring things. You're not actually doing anything, more shifting your weight from room to room than walking. And yet it is one of the more tiring things one can do, no matter how thrilled you are by the exhibits.

But unlike outdoor destinations – the Empire State building or Times Square or Wall Street's bull – it's actually a lovely feeling, being a tourist at a museum. Somehow, instead of feeling possessive over your surroundings, you feel bolstered that such an important destination is in your backyard.

In addition to the exhaustion, another museum universal is the question: how long is long enough for me to stare at this piece of art so that I have sufficiently absorbed its meaning before I move on with my life? Stare too briefly and you're an idiot. Stare too long and you start to feel like a teenager who's just read The Bell Jar.

And so after an afternoon of gawking at Impressionist paintings and Art Deco jewellery, I decided to skitter back downtown to eat take-out food in my apartment with friends. Of course, when I told one of them to make himself at home, he instantly dropped and broke a glass. Home sweet home.

Sloane Crosley is the author of 'How Did You Get This Number' (Portobello)