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How to maximize enjoyment of a museum

Published On June 1, 2014 | By Mark | Travel

There is nothing worse than visiting a museum when a) a school trip has rocked up at the same time, b) it’s boiling hot, or c) when it’s simply packed.

You might be seriously looking forward to your time in this particular museum, and you might have been planning it for a while, but there is always the danger that you end up walking around aimlessly, without really getting to the parts that truly interest you.

It’s for this reason that I’m not the world’s biggest museum fan. I like the content, don’t get me wrong, but I always seem to end up visiting at the same time as that school party, and I have to elbow my way around, giving myself a headache in the process.

There are a few tips to maximise your time at the museum, so you get the most out of it, and exit the building unscathed!

1)     Visit early. If you go early in the day, it’s basically going to be less busy, less hot, and overall easier on the stress levels. This way you will also have more energy, and be more focused on finding what you want to see.

2)     Don’t plan to visit more than one in a day. This is basically knowledge overload, and that isn’t good for anyone.

3)     Don’t plan to stay for the whole day. Nobody can walk around a museum for an entire day, so plan to spend a few hours instead, and focus on the parts you really want to see.

4)     Research the museum. Hit the internet pre-visit and find out what the museum has that you might like to see. If you can, download a map so you can give your route a bit of pre-thought.

5)     Don’t concentrate only on the highlights. Too many people head straight to the main focus of the museum, and miss out on the smaller attractions, which you might find you enjoy more. Maybe plan to spend an hour wandering through the smaller collections.

6)     Look into free tours. Guided tours are the best way to find out more about what you’re seeing, and gives you the chance to ask questions too. You’ll gain more knowledge-wise if you have expert eyes.

7)     Don’t visit alone. Whilst you might think wandering around on your own means freedom to see what you really want to see, you might find that discussing the paintings, works and collections as you go with a friend, is a more enriching experience, and you will see things from a different perspective than simply your own.

8)     Researching local artists. Getting the most out of your visit will require a bit of pre-knowledge. If there is a local artist who is heavily featured within that particular museum, make sure you read up on them before you visit, to truly understand the impact they had, and the works you’re seeing.

9)     Focus on the art periods which particularly interest you. I mentioned earlier that you should always look at the less famous works within the museum, but similarly, you need to find out if the periods of time you’re particularly interested in are featured, and head to that section, to get the most enjoyment out of your time.

10)  And finally …. avoid the gift shop like the plague!

photo credit: Lies Thru a Lens  via photopin cc

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