Things You Should Know about Museums

Image from Know LA

Image from Know LA

I enjoy visiting museums. I’m not the kind or person who spends hours pontificating on each exhibit; I’m more of the drive by Lookie Loo type. If I see something I like, I’ll spend a little more time. Other than that, I’ll move on. I sometimes move quickly through a museum, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it.

I really do love a good museum. However, there are some things I know to be true…


4. It is okay if you don’t see everything.

Museums can be great. Most are even better if you’ll enjoy them your way. You don’t need to spend 3 hours in a museum to enjoy it. Some museums are massive! Go to that famous painting, 4D movie, or that awesome dinosaur exhibit first. In all likelihood, you aren’t going to finish that big museum in one day. Why would you?  It’s like when you eat a big plate of really delicious food. You really enjoyed eating it. There’s a lot more food leftover, but you are uncomfortably full. Why finish that plate and end up miserable with the whole experience? Take your time. Finish it tomorrow or come back at a later time. It’s okay if you don’t finish. Nobody’s going to yell at you.

When I visited New York City, I went to the MoMA. I loved it. I really wanted to finish all of it, but I just couldn’t. I did 3 floors, and I was worn out. I loved every second of it, but I could not experience one more minute. That wasn’t a bad thing. That just meant the MoMA will probably always be on my list of things to do when I go to New York. I’m cool with that.

What’s really cool is some museums are evolving to meet the needs of their patrons. Some larger museums let you enjoy the museum for two days when you buy a ticket; this is perfect for those attention challenged folks like me. And in New York City, some museums will allow you to pay what you wish. You just want to pop in for 45 minutes, you can pay you think is appropriate and explore. That’s pretty awesome.

3. Some museums are tragically boring.

That’s right I said it. Let’s be honest, not all museums are super awesome, funky good times. While I do not think museums are inherently boring, some museums don’t peak my interest and walking through them is a chore because I’m not at all interested in the overarching theme. Therefore, I deem it boring because what I don’t find interesting is boring. I know that sounds like kid logic, but let’s remember that I do teach children.

On the other hand, there are some museums that are truly uninteresting. They are display after boring display of 60 year-old, dusty dioramas. Talk about a snoozefest. Dreadfully boooooooring.

A diorama of them making a diorama. (RIP Community.)

A diorama of them making a diorama. (RIP Community.)

If you have a lot of options of museums to visit when traveling, visit the ones that peak your and your family’s interests the most. You don’t have to go to an art museum. Try a history or science museum.  Yes, you can be ridiculously surprised by some museums, but if you are tight on time- go see what you know you are going to like. Sometimes it is best to go with the hits.

2. You may not be interested in some of the exhibits, and that’s okay.

Most museums have parts or exhibits that may not be worth your time. Everything can’t be a hit. Have an idea of the pieces you want to see and hit those exhibits first then wander around. Don’t forget to enjoy all the other parts of the museum like the beautiful architecture, air conditioning, cafes, bathrooms, and if you are lucky, a place to sit. I love sitting in one of those rooms with famous paintings. It makes me feel all fancy.

Ugh. That painting is sooo 500 years ago!

 Ugh. That painting is sooo 500 years ago!

1. You may not want to go on free days, days new exhibits open, or days that particular museum is one of the only things open in the city. They tend to be crazy busy.

A lot of museums charge a fee to enter. Many travel sites will urge you to go museums on their free days. I’m telling you don’t. Those days tend to be an animal house with people everywhere. Everybody wants to go to the museum for free just like you do. Overcrowded museums are no fun. Listen to me now or believe me later. Or do neither, I’m not your supervisor.

If you are in Washington DC, all the Smithsonian Museums and Zoo have free entrance all the time. Don’t pay for a ticket.

Pro-Tip for Museums with Entrance Fees: If you buy your ticket online, you often won’t have to wait in those long lines to get in. Also, really large cities (in Europe especially) have museum passes or something similar to that. Some cities offer different types of passes. You’d have to do the research to see which  pass if any works best  for you.

One of those anchor texts took you to the Musical Instruments Museum in Phoenix, AZ. I loved that museum; that place is awesome. It sounds awful, but it ain’t. I am just as surprised as you are.


10 thoughts on “Things You Should Know about Museums

  1. Having been traveling in Europe for 5 weeks now, I’ve definitely noticed that there reaches a point where I just can’t focus on the art anymore, I glaze over when listening to the audio guide and get antsy and want to leave. Unfortunately, my family has a much higher tolerance for art museums that I do, so I often have to sit around and wait and beg to leave. Nowhere here has a 2-day pass (that I know of) but sometimes lunch in the cafe to break it up makes it so I can go again.

    • Those 2 day passes must be in US only. They rock!

      I bought an Articket (one if their museum passes) when I go to Barcelona. That is good for entrance for all the museums I want to go to for like 3 months not that I will be there that long. It was like 28 euros. But Sweet Baby Jesus, I am going to needs some breaks. Not all those passes are good deals.

      Thanks again for the suggestions on your blog. They were very helpful.

  2. I used to be one go those “gotta see it all” people. Lucky for me (and my family) I have adopted a style more similar to yours. We are a museum loving family and you offer very helpful tips for a successful museum visit.

  3. This is exactly the way I feel about touring museums. I definitely zoom around and stop by to take a look when something catches my eye.Something new I’ve noticed in museums that I’m not so crazy about is the use of too many videos. I want to see STUFF. I recently went to the National Museum of the American Indian in D.C. and was amazed by the lack of actual artifacts. It doesn’t seem like it should be so difficult to find these things. Instead, the museum was filled with TV monitors featuring interviews, tribal rituals, experts talking, etc. I could have watched this stuff at home on YouTube! On the other hand, The United States Memorial Holocaust Museum is incredible. It is a nice balance of artifacts and audio visual enhancements. It is quite powerful.

    • I like the integration of videos and oral histories in science and history museums. A lot. But not if that is all I’m getting in lieu of a collection. Luckily, I don’t see that often.

      The American Indian Museum is not high on my list- way too many reasons to list. I will say that I feel the exact same way you do. It isn’t a boring museum really; just not very informative and a bunch of other stuff. The building is cool.

      I still haven’t seen the Holocaust Museum. The first time I tried to go I was in the loooooooooong line, and I saw a man walk by consoling his wife who was crying hard. When she said, “I just wish I didn’t know that happened!”- I popped out of line because I was already crying. I’ll make it one day.

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