Our guide to visiting museums

We get it — museums can be intimidating. From the shear size and cavernous hallways, to the culture seemingly oozing from the walls, they can feel as though they’re reserved for those with a professional degree in sophistication.

But, museums don’t need to be scary, and they certainly aren’t just for tourists looking to get their culture on in a new city. The next time you’re looking for something a little different to do, check out these five tips on how to visit a museum (and enjoy it).

1. Start with just one exhibit

Statue exhibit in museum
Credit: Jonas Smith on Unsplash

Spending an entire day at a museum can be exhausting and overwhelming. Instead of running yourself ragged trying to see everything in one go, commit to seeing just one exhibit that interests you.

Keeping your visit short and focused takes the pressure off and lets you fully immerse yourself in your museum experience. In fact, some experts recommend limiting your visit to two hours or less to avoid fatigue. Remember, you can always return another day to explore some more — the museum isn’t going anywhere.

2. Sit and sketch a piece

Sketching dinosaurs at museum
Credit: Jimmie on Flickr

While sitting and sketching an art piece or exhibit might be best suited for those who are artistically inclined, you don’t need to be an amazing artist to take part in this activity. Losing yourself in your own art can be a mindful way to enjoy your visit.

If sketching isn’t your thing, sit and analyze a piece that catches your eye. Absorb the intricacies, colors, and details, and ask yourself what you like and dislike about the piece. Taking the time to really study an exhibit can help you gain insight into your own artistic mind and create a more satisfying museum experience.

3. Bring a friend with you

Two friends at an art museum
Credit: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Museums can be a solitary experience, but visiting with a friend is fun, too. Their take on different pieces and exhibits can offer a fresh perspective, and you might find yourself exploring areas of the museum you wouldn’t think to visit on your own. To get the conversation flowing, consider choosing one exhibit each and talking about why you chose it, which part you like and dislike, and why.

4. Start with what interests you

Ballerina dancing in art museum
Credit: Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

Depending on which museum you are visiting, the exhibits and pieces within its walls can vary greatly. We’re going to let you in on a secret — you don’t have to find them all interesting.

As you explore the museum, start with what excites you the most. Whether it’s an installation from an up-and-coming artist or a piece the museum is famous for that you’ve always wanted to visit, taking time to see what you really want to see will create a unique and enjoyable visit.

5. Do your research beforehand

Main standing in front of brightly striped painting
Credit: Mario Gogh on Unsplash

Museums can be huge and hard to find your way around, and nothing is more frustrating than walking around in circles. Before your visit, do some research into where the exhibits are that you want to see and how to get to them. Having a route in place when you arrive will maximize your time (and keep you from wandering around lost).

Bonus tip: take a tour

People on tour of art museum
Credit: Ståle Grut on Unsplash

Finally, if you’re unsure what you want to see or just want an expert to lead the way, a museum tour can be a great way to see its most popular exhibits. PlacePass has tickets and tours for the world’s most popular museums, including:

Museums don’t need to be overwhelming or boring. If you’re wondering how to visit a museum, these tips can help you create an enjoyable experience catered to your interests. Focus your visits on what you like, and you’ll become a seasoned museum buff in no time.

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