Michael O’Hare makes a very compelling argument for museums as a date location. He writes:

I wonder that museums haven’t become a favored place for educated young people to meet strangers : you’re assured that anyone there is enough like you to be worth at least some schmoose, it’s safe, and all the stuff in the previous paragraph. As a former museologist, I always watch the visitors as much as the displays and I see surprisingly little of this. I bet the typical single museum visitor in his or her twenties would be more amenable to chatting with a stranger than the strangers seem to fear: try it! If you go alone to a bar and come up empty, you’ve wasted the evening and hurt your liver. If you go alone to a museum and don’t meet anyone, you still meet Vermeer or a real gigantotherium.

Matt Yglesias raises two concerns: 1. tourists exist and 2. people don’t just hang out at museums. I have a third to contribute: distraction. A coffee shop is a good place because if your date is marginally interesting, there’s nothing that should distract you, allowing you to devote your full attention to listening and committing to memory whatever your date is saying. I like the idea of museums as a place for talking to strangers and Ygelsias’s idea of using visible Facebook profiles as a way of breaking ice with strangers is slightly more cool than it is creepy, but I worry about using museums as date spots. I can’t speak to anyone else, but if my date was less-than-entrancing from the start, I would be likely to look at the art and mumble non-specific agreements to whatever she said. O’Hare’s advantage – that the art is a pretty good backup option – turns out to be a disadvantage if it causes one not to give one’s date a real chance because the art is more immediately compelling. Maybe it could work if it was at a museum in which I wasn’t interested, but then it’s not better than a bar or a party which have the added bonus of alcohol. The solution seems to be leave museums for later dates or wait till technology makes it easier to hit on strangers with art knowledge.
A considered title for this blog was “Overthinkin’ Stuff.”

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