Kolja Sam Pluemer

How much time do people spend looking at masterpieces of art?

Paper summary - Smith & Smith 2001


Velociraptor speeding past art gallery

How long do people stop to look at great art? About 27 seconds, it turns out. Or 17 seconds, if you prefer median over mean.

At least that’s what Smith and Smith found out. They looked at people looking at art - in a very natural setting: The Met. No lab setup, I like it.

What am I going to do with this information? No idea. One interesting aspect the authors bring up: People are still profoundly moved by art museums. How can that be if they spend not even half a minute to look at Aristotle with a Bust of Homer?

It seems to be the accumulate experiences of all the great art in one place. And the appeal of repeated visits. Or something else entirely? Who knows.

Thanks for reading! This post is part of my series of reading and summarizing papers, mostly relating to UX. I use a casual tone because that’s the most fun to me. That means my interpretation of a given paper may be off. Or incomplete. Or plain wrong. Always think for yourself, and for the love of God, don’t cite this in an academic context. Use the original article instead. Cheers!