3 Things to Bring to Museums… and 3 Things Not to Bring!

Hello everyone, long time no blog! Over a month has gone by and I have found myself with a bit of writer’s block, but hopefully something short and sweet will help me overcome it! The action of ‘visiting museums’ is hardly a science or an art form, but helpful tips can always be appreciated. From your small and cozy local community museum to a large foreign tourist destination museum, there are a few universal tips and recommendations that I am happy to impart. Take a moment to check out some of my recommendations that are based on my experiences, and experiences that I have heard about from other people!


  1. Sensible Shoes


When I say sensible shoes, this goes without saying that you should wear comfortable shoes if you are going to be walking and standing for extended periods. No one would want their visit to end because their feet are too sore to continue on! One should also keep in mind that a museum trip is not the time to wear super squeaky running shoes. You know what shoes I am talking about- the kind that squeak horribly with every step you take on a polished surface- leave these at home so that you do not disturb yourself or others!


  1. Note Pad/ iPhone for Notes


Regardless of the exhibition content, I always find myself inspired by a piece of art or intrigued by an artifact that I want to remember to look up later. I always take notes during exhibitions on my iPhone so that I can write a blog post later on, but I also jot down names, dates, and places. I also find this helpful if I am in a crowded exhibition or if I have a lot of ground to cover, because instead of reading an entire panel for a painting, I can research it later on after my visit at my leisure.


  1. An Open Mind

open mind.png

More often than not, I have heard many stories about people who went to museum exhibitions with preconceived notions that negatively impacted their visit. Try not to do this. If you do not think you will like an exhibition, go in anyways. You never know. If you feel that a particular museum will not have a stance that you agree with on a controversial issue, go to the exhibit anyways so that you can articulate why you do not agree. But keep an open mind, because you do not want to fall prey to negative press, rumors, or your own prejudices. If you make yourself receptive to a positive experience, you will more likely than not enjoy your visit.


Things to consider leaving at home…


  1. Camera


This is a tough one for me, but I will say that if you are visiting a museum for the first time, leave your camera at home. Try and enjoy the museum with your own eyes rather than through a viewfinder, and bring your camera along to take pictures with on your second trip. Many museums do not allow photography in their galleries today anyways, and I myself am frustrated when I have to tote around a heavy DSLR that I am not even able to use. Smart phones also all have cameras today, so you will still be able to take a photo with your phone if you need to! Sometimes if I am visiting a museum that is well known for their extensive gardens, I will bring my camera with regarless (but I enjoy photographing flowers, so the effort is not a waste for me). Consider your options!


  1. Backpacks and large bags


This is just as much for your own good as it is for the good of the museum- leave your backpacks and large purses at home. First off, they can be a pain, literal pain to lug around and need constant adjustment and shifting. When I switch from my usual everyday large tote to a small bag, the feeling is very liberating! Backpacks and large bags are also hazardous to other visitors and displays that are unintentionally struck by them. Even if one is very careful, I guarantee you will at some point turn quickly and bump into something or someone! When I visited The Broad this past winter, they actually asked everyone who had a backpack to wear it on their front to avoid smacking displays and people- good idea, but who wants to carry around a backpack like a Baby Bjorn?! So unless you are traveling with a diaper bag or medical supplies, leave you large bag/ backpack at home, or in even the car!


  1. Time frames


In our busy lives today we have to schedule everything in, even time for fun! I will usually schedule a whole morning or afternoon for a museum visit, and try not to have any time sensitive activities surrounding my trip in case I run over and need more time- ie. I do not want to be distracted about how long I have to get to the theater, and how bad traffic is going to be while I am trying to enjoy an exhibition. However, I have on the other hand also found myself frustrated because I did not spend as much time as I had planned to at a museum. I think we need to leave our time frames at home- if you spend more or less time than expected, that should be okay. I think in the States because we pay for entry (and usually parking), we feel motivated to invest a lot of time at the museum to ‘get our money’s worth’. This is too bad, in a way, because our quality of experience should be the most important aspect about our museum visit. But we should not have too high of expectations in regards to time commitment, so that we do not unintentionally disappoint ourselves! Some museums flow well, present their material in a concise and educational way, and do not take a long time to work through- this is a good thing, not a bad thing!


I hope that some of these tips have been helpful! Thanks for reading, and I hope to be blogging more often in the near future! 


Peace and long life.

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