Theres no right answer; but there is some evidence of what most people do in practice, much of it quoted by Elkins in a 2010 essay on the Huffington Post. In summary, if museum-goers are eating oranges, theyre eating them bloody fast. The Louvre says that the average visitor looks at the Mona Lisa for 15 seconds. New Yorks Metropolitan Museum of Art found people looking at each work for 32.5 seconds. Another study, conducted by Rutgers University, found that the median time spent on each work was 17 seconds.