What NOT To Do In (Art) Museums

Many people get confused by or act inappropriately simply because they are not familiar with the fact that the museums are different from cinemas, restaurants or any other social spot. Although some cultural manners are the same, because of the nature of the visit some attitudes are only specific for the museums or galleries.

In museums, one can learn a lot, get closer to the history and culture or appreciate art. They can be an exciting and very interesting way of gathering new information about people’s past and traditions. Also, in art museums, our emotions can be very easily provoked just by looking or appreciating some piece of art.

The staff of the museums makes such an effort to keep the art safe to be enjoyed by many generations to come. Most of the museums have certain rules to be followed, but there are also few manners any museum-goer will like other visitors that go to museums rarely, to be reminded of. The thing is that all of these attitudes that are not allowed in the museums (described further) in general exist only for ours, visitors’, better experience and for ensuring that the art is kept and stored in the most appropriate way possible. Museum rules are there for the better safety of the artworks and viewing conditions of the visitors.

There is a reason why museums are dark and can get a bit chilly too. Speaking of which, bring a jacket or a sweater with you. For the art to be as safely stored as possible the museum has to provide ideal conditions. The temperature and humidity have to be maintained to a certain level at all times that will prevent damaging the art collections in time.

Those pieces of art that are on exhibit in museums or galleries, like paintings, artifacts or sculptures are so unique and valuable that really no one can afford to be broken. It simply isn’t just about a simple vase that can be replaced with another similar one. Accidents do happen though and that is why in most of the museums – big bags, backpacks, suitcases on wheels (that can be loud too), umbrellas or selfie sticks – that can cause such accidents, knock down and break things inside the exhibit, won’t be allowed. As well as running and playing. Even if you do break some sculpture for example or another piece of art and you pay for it, the saddest thing is that no one can ever appreciate it again. Usually, you can leave those big items or belongings at the front desk or there will be lockers where you can place them for the duration of your stay. You’ll have a better experience of the exhibit without the weight on you while walking around and near the art anyhow.

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Although many of the museums will allow taking photos usually of their permanent collections, flash photography won’t be allowed. A flashlight can also make a damage to the paintings. But, taking too many photos will only distract you from the art and defocus from what’s really in there to be seen and enjoyed anyway. There is certainly no need for you to capture every single piece of art you see in the museum, instead make a nice selection of your favorites. I agree that selfies are great fun and that’s why we, the people love them and talk about them so much. There is simply something unique and special at that moment when taking a photo of yourself. So, if you do want to express your creativity with an awesome art selfie you’ll have to do it without the use of a selfie stick. You can also leave a room to take a few awesome though, outside the building, in front of the museum without climbing on sculptures, if any.

Make sure you adjust your cell phone to a silent mode and if you do need to communicate while you’re in the museum text messages are a way better option. Taking a phone call inside the exhibit would ruin not only your experience but to other visitors as well. Even if phone calls are allowed, be considerate to the others and talk outside of the museum.

No matter how gentle and cautious your touch may be, the oil of our skin can be harmful to the art too. The slightest touch can make damage to the surface of a painting or a sculpture. That’s why probably the first and foremost rule that you’ll encounter in any museum is: DO NOT TOUCH the art (sculptures or paintings) – unless expressly allowed in some instances when there might be some interactive displays. Always walk at the specified distance from displays, like one footstep or two, and never cross ropes to get a closer look. Those ropes or lines on the floor in front of the paintings or any other exhibit display are there for a reason.  They mark the area from where you can look and enjoy the art. If there aren’t any, to avoid accidentally touching or bumping into works of art at least one footstep would be a reasonable distance. Leaning against walls or even worse, sculptures is not a good idea either. If you need a few minutes to rest, sit on the benches or couches.

Museums are unique, where you’ll get the chance to observe a lot, feel, think about the art and the artist, ask some questions to yourself. Activities that will certainly require peaceful and quiet ambient and atmosphere. Give yourself a time to slowly absorb the art you’ll be seeing around you. If you do want to exchange some thoughts with your companion, keep your voice as low as possible when talking. And avoid blocking the sight to the other visitors when admiring the art.

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Food, drink and chew gums won’t be permitted either. Or, smoking tobacco of course. There will probably be available ashtrays placed outside the museums on a designated area for smoking cigars. We don’t want to blow the gum on some valuable painting or other visitor’s hair either. Food and drink can also be very harmful to the artwork.

Understandably, people tend to spend at least a couple of hours in the museums and can get hungry or thirsty on the way. Many museums will offer cafeterias or restaurants in the same building or at least benches with tables in front of the building where you can grab a bite. Keep in mind though when entering a museum you might not be allowed to go in with a food in your bag unless is packed. The truth is that food leftovers can attract insects that can damage the art. As you enter and leave the building some museums will inspect your bag or purse.

So, except that we all should forget about the outside world for a while when we are in the museums, including food and snacks, we should take our garbage with us too. Finally, food will definitely distract us from the art. Enjoying art and food at the same time isn’t possible anyway. They both need special attention.

Anyhow, we shouldn’t let ourselves get exhausted. Spending three to four hours at most will be just enough reasonable time for anyone to spend it in the museum. Anything more than that will probably affect and ruin the impressions simply because the body and mind will start feeling a bit tired. Try to stick to these hours to make the most of your experience. However big the museum might be, you can always come back another time.

Some people tend to read about the museum, artists, and exhibits beforehand while others explore more afterward. There is no right way. The best thing anyone can do is just to relax while exploring inside. And you don’t really need to feel anything or connect in some way with the art every time.

If you take a self-guided tour you can approach to the exhibit at your own pace, stay with some art piece more than with others. The guided tours are a great way to learn about the exhibit and the artist in a more detailed and informative way when you’ll have to stay with your group all the time. Or, consider taking an audio tour. Depending on your mood choose the one that works for you.