How to Make the Most of Visiting a Museum

A woman sits in between two large busts while visiting a museum.

Visiting a museum isn’t something that most of us get to do very often. When we do, it’s often part of a larger trip to another city or even another country. These are rare and special opportunities, so you’ll want to make the most of your museum visit.

Today in the FrameStore Blog, we’ll be going over our steps for getting the most positive, enriching experience out of visiting a museum.

  1. Prepare to Enjoy Your Museum Visit!

With good preparation, your visit will be incredibly memorable—maybe even a highlight of your entire trip. Some people find a really good museum visit to be one of the highlights of their entire lives. That’s why we think the preparation is well worth it.

  1. Choose the Most Appealing Museum

Museums aren’t all the same. Some feature the arts. Others feature the sciences. Still others feature technology, industry, human history, natural history, or nature. There are big, general museums with sprawling campuses and tons of exhibits, and smaller museums with a narrower focus on their subject matter.

Even small cities usually have multiple museums. So take some time to research the city’s museum options. Visiting a museum’s website will help you to get a sense of what each museum offers. Also, be sure to check out tour recommendations and visitor reviews for a second opinion.

  1. Plan to Spend Some Serious Time on Your Visit

Museums take longer to tour than you might expect. Sure, you can rush through and be done in just a few minutes, but then why bother going at all? Museums by their very nature involve lots of close examination, reading, and questioning. It takes time! Even the very smallest museums will take at least an hour or two to visit.

Large museum visits, meanwhile, are almost like visiting another planet. Visiting a museum like the Getty Center here in Los Angeles would take many days for you to properly view in its entirety. In other words, you won’t be able to see all of it, so you’ll need to prioritize which parts of the museum you want to see. The museum’s website will help give you a sense of which exhibits are the most appealing based on your interests.

  1. Brush Up on Your Analytical Skills

If you walk into a museum without knowing anything about the subject matter, you won’t have the knowledge base or descriptive language to process the exhibits you see, and your museum visit will be greatly diminished in impact. So it’s important to brush up on your analytical skills before you go.

You don’t have to become an expert! Don’t think of this as “homework” so much as basic preparation. For example: If you’ll be visiting a museum of art, take some time to learn about the elements and principles of art, which are the tools for evaluating art in a more objective, communicable way. If you’ll be visiting a museum of history, take some time to read up a little bit on that era of history.

The museum itself, or a local resource such as your library or local museum, should be able to recommend classes, videos, or reading materials.

  1. Visit Your Local Museum First

If you’ll be traveling to a famous museum, you can gain experience by visiting your local museum first. Local museums tend to be small and friendly. You’ll be able to talk to the staff to learn more about their exhibits and get advice for visiting a larger museum. You’ll also be able to get a better sense of the time that visiting a museum takes you at your own pace.

If you’ll be visiting with friends or family, bring them along to the local museum to help get a sense of their pace too, and to get a sense of how much they enjoy it.

  1. Be Well-Rested & Properly Dressed

When your big museum visit finally arrives, make sure you get plenty of rest the night before and eat a good breakfast in the morning. Museums are surprisingly energy-draining to visit: You’ll be doing a lot of walking and using your brain more than you might realize, which is tiring.

In particular, make sure you wear comfortable shoes that are good for lots of walking, and good thick socks to help absorb all those steps you’ll be taking. Without good shoes, visiting a museum could cause knee, hip, or back pain.

It’ll also be useful for you to dress in layers so that you can be more comfortable as the day goes on, especially if some parts of your museum visit involve being outdoors.

Lastly, while museums don’t require formal dress, it’s a good idea to dress up at least a little bit. Take advantage of this opportunity to wear something fashionable and elegant. Lots of cultured people are going to be seeing you, after all!

  1. Take a Guided Tour or Self-Guided Audio Tour

Even with all your thoughtful preparation, visiting a museum is still one of those situations where “you don’t know what you don’t know.” If you go through the exhibits on your own, there are so many interesting details and pieces of context you’ll miss out on that you won’t even realize you’re missing.

Thankfully, museum operators know this. That’s why many museums, and virtually all large museums, offer guided tours as well as self-guided audio tours. Small museums may not offer tours, but their staff is usually friendly and happy to answer your questions, provide explanations, and point out interesting things to look out for.

Even if tours are not your favorite thing, visiting a museum is a good exception to make. We strongly recommend that you take at least one tour if the option is available! You won’t regret it.

Oh, and make sure to pick up a map when you first arrive! That will help guide your order of what to visit.

  1. Take Healthy Breaks

Like we mentioned, visiting a museum can be exhausting. You can make your energy last longer by taking short breaks every hour, eating snacks, and taking a nice long lunch. Don’t worry about your diet today: Eat big, hearty meals! While a big meal can make you sleepy if you don’t move around, “walking it off” after a meal is actually a great energy boost and will help you to stay alert and energetic during the tricky early afternoon hours of your museum visit, which is when many unprepared people start to get tired.

  1. Come Back for More

For giant museums, consider scheduling two days for your visit. Visiting a museum over two (or more) days will make the pace less frenetic, and will allow you to see the museum with a fresh pair of eyes each day. You’ll be able to visit more of the exhibits and revisit exhibits that made a strong impression on you.

And if you can’t see it all, well: You can always come back another day!

Get a Taste of Visiting a Museum from the Comforts of Home

One of the things you’ll notice at most museums is the amazing picture frames they use to display their art and other important objects. A good frame makes all the difference in showing off an artwork’s best properties.

At FrameStore, we work with museums and galleries around the country to supply archival-quality custom picture frames for their exhibits. And we can do the same for you, at your home or business. We offer custom frames for just about anything you’d like to display, from paintings to sports jerseys.
Drop by one of our seven LA locations to meet with one of our designers and pick out a custom frame for your cherished possessions. We’re currently offering a 50% off coupon!

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