I've been to a sex museum in Amsterdam and never felt less titillated.
I've been to a beer museum in Prague and never felt less intoxicated.
Where's the "muse" in all these museums? Where's the theater?
Millions of dollars, to see a rock
I put equivalent questions to several of the big museum names around the world, including the Smithsonian Institution, The British Museums Association and the Western Australian Museum.
Most didn't get back to me, but Ford W. Bell, president of the American Alliance of Museums, did. You can read his full, unedited letter here.
As is usual when you ask any museum pro what the problem is, it comes down to money.
"Since the Great Recession, our studies show that fully two-thirds of museums have reported financial stress," says Bell.
"Many have been forced to cut staff, hours and programs. At the height of the downturn, even the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Getty -- arguably the two richest museums in the country -- cut their staffs."
Many of the world's biggest and best museums are dependent on public money.
London's Natural History Museum needed £82 million ($128 million) to operate over 2012/2013, and nearly £46 million of this, 56%, came from government grants.
The Smithsonian has been government funded to the tune of $811.5 million for 2013 -- 65% of its total costs.
Yet these are still cited as among their country's best "free" activities.
Insiders claim they generate far more money than they suck up. "One statistic I never tire of citing -- for every $1 a municipality invests in cultural organizations, including museums, $7 are returned to the public coffers. That's a return that would make Warren Buffett swoon," says Bell.
Fair enough, I don't question the wider benefits of museums, economic or otherwise.
But the collect-and-cage policy that defines the visible exhibits, much of which is not even visible most of the time, is anathema to an engaging experience.
The exhibit just opened by the Smithsonian is a good example.
"Souvenir Nation" showcases souvenirs from history and among its most noteworthy items are a brick from President Washington's childhood home, a piece of Plymouth Rock chiseled off by a 19th-century tourist, locks of hair from former U.S presidents and a napkin belonging to Napoleon.
So this icon of world museums is now proudly displaying an old brick, an old piece of rock, some hair and a napkin.
Is there any other industry that could get away with this?
This smacks of the most smugly provocative modern art, which insists that anything the curate deigns to put inside the building inevitably becomes "interesting."
Well, sorry. If you want me to fork out for some audio guide headphones, a gift shop key ring and even the $25 book at the end of it all, you need to do better.
Where's the relevance? Why, in places designed to celebrate life and all its variety, is there such a lack of vitality?
Great for kids, but what about the rest of us?
My trip two years ago to Hong Kong's Science Museum convinced me that if there were a World Championship for Most Dreary Things To Do On Vacation, museums would be disqualified for going over the top.