9 Tips to Help You Enhance Your Experience at an Art Museum

So you’re in a art museum.  You idly wander, stopping for key pieces in between conversations with friends.  You attempt to connect with intriguing work, but often forget the artist’s name as soon as you walk away.  Two hours later, the evenly spaced objects of fascination become a muddled blur of shapes in a white room.  Thousands of museum-goers each day go through slight variations of the same experience.  You and many others leave the museum thinking, perhaps more could have been accomplished.  Why this feeling?  Because you have yet to learn the secrets of getting the most out of your museum experience! For this reason we have compiled of 9 things you should do in an art museum.


Enhance Your Experience at an Art Museum


1.    Find And Study A Work Of Art That You HATE.

It is not uncommon for your most profound museum revelations to be in front of work that makes you uncomfortable, or even MAD.  While you absolutely despise one painting, it could be someone else’s graduate school thesis paper topic.  Why is that?  Ask yourself questions like, “what makes this work so unpleasant to me?” and, “why would someone hang this in a museum?”

2.    Figure Out The Curator’s Vision: It’s Like A Puzzle!   

Each room in a museum has been painstakingly organized by its curator to “flow” well.  Go with your gut.  Walk to the piece that immediately strikes you when you enter.  Try to follow the path that the curator would have wanted you to take from there.  Use key themes or clues from the info cards.

3.    Eavesdrop Like Mad.

Listen to strangers talk about art!  The unique way someone else perceives it may surprise you.  Hint: if it’s a big tour group, no one will notice!

4.    Have A Staring Contest.

It’s simple.  Stare at a work of art for about three minutes.  Let your peripheral blur and subconscious thoughts invade.  Tunnel vision takes over, revealing the piece out-of-context, away from a museum setting.  Does it make a difference?

5.    Imagine Yourself Creating Your Favorite Piece.

9 Tips to Help You Enhance Your Experience at an Art Museum

Ask questions. Yeah, you like the painting, but how was it made?  What would you do first?  This forces you to consider process, something many viewers overlook.

6.    People Watch.

One of the most inspiring things to see is someone in a private moment with art.  The space between the viewer and the work is energized.  They telepathically converse, exchanging memories…  Caught at the right moment, this scene can easily give you goosebumps.

7.    Musical Integration.

9 Tips to Help You Enhance Your Experience at an Art Museum

Strange- yet effective.  Listen to a favorite song while inspecting a favorite piece.  Are there parallels between the two art forms?  Is the song organic and ethereal like the faint dry brushing of Monet, or orderly and rhythmic like Mondrian?  It’s so fun to find similarities between seemingly unrelated interest

8. Artists Are People, Too!

9 Tips to Help You Enhance Your Experience at an Art Museum

Google fun facts about the artists.  Salvador Dali believed he was his dead brother’s reincarnation?  It all makes sense now…

9.    Bring Someone Knowledgeable.

If you are lucky enough to know someone who is passionate about art, ask him or her to let you tag along.  Watching their face light up while rambling about their most beloved period is a different kind of learning.  A teacher is not talking AT you, but a friend is talking WITH you!

What tips do you use to enhance your experience at an art museum? Please share any comments. Thanks

By Caroline Absher

About The Author

Caroline is a writer, painter, and Art History major at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Her life goals include moving to Italy, renovating a European castle into a giant mural project, and cloning her cat.

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