Art museums are great but sometimes it’s hard to engage. This is a guide for getting the most out of your Art Museum visit - 5 tips for a better (or maybe just different) Art Museum experience!
5 tips for a better (or maybe just different) Art Museum experience.
Art Museums are great! Whether they are new territory for you or you’ve been to more museums than you can count, every now and then you’ll have an off day. Sometimes it’s just harder to engage. You’re not as easily impressed or moved, and everything looks like something you’ve seen before. This is a guide for getting the most out of your visit. 5 tips for a better (or maybe just different) Art Museum experience for you to try the next time you’re having an off day at the Art Museum – or if you’re going with someone less enthusiastic than you.
1. Try the audio guide
If you don’t have the time or feel like trying out the guided tour, and you don’t want to spend too much time reading wall texts or hand-outs, many art museums offer an audio guide. It’s a small device with a set of headphones to carry along with you on your visit. It might seem a little inconvenient to carry it, but it is often worth the trouble. Getting all the “gossip” about the works, artists, historic periods etc. can give you the tools for better understanding and relate to a work. Sometimes an anecdote can make you look at something in an entirely different way than you did at first. Having a story to pin on a work can make it seem more relevant and give you something to remember the piece or the artist by.
2. Start with the temporary exhibitions
Do you feel like most art museums all have the same type of works on display? The chronological art history-walk from ancient Greek sculptures to 19th century landscapes to modern installations? Try starting your visit with the temporary exhibitions. This is where the art museum presents the topics related to their collection. The art is presented with a different angle or theme than just its style and place in art history. If you’re visiting a large museum or a museum you’ve never been to before, it might be exhausting to walk through both the permanent collection and the temporary exhibitions. If you go the other way around – looking at the temporary exhibitions first, you’ll have more energy to engage in the theme or concept on a display.
3. Look at the architecture
Try to look at the museum website before your visit, or find a flyer about the architecture at the venue – there might be more calling for your attention than just the art. Whether it’s an old romantic castle, a 19th century brick building or a modernist white cement cube the museum building can hold history and an architectural concept to compliment the collection or exhibition program. Some museums build interiors to match the works or artifacts – French salons in pastel colors with the Rococo paintings and dark brick walls with a lowered ceiling with the works and artifacts from the middle ages. The curators put a lot of time into placing the works. The style, shape, light, and feel of the gallery are important factors in our perception of the works.
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4. Choose your favorites
Try to choose your favorite and the piece you like the least every time you enter a new room. In having to choose you’ll also have to look, think or maybe just reflect on what you instinctively felt when you looked at the art. Sometimes comparing the works instead of walking from piece to piece, looking at them separately, can reveal things you didn’t notice at first or help you reflect. If it’s allowed at the museum, you can use your phone to photograph your favorites and look at them while you have coffee in the museum café later. It’s not unlikely that there will be a continuous theme in your favorites that you didn’t even knew about; works that depict animals, works were blue is the dominating color or works that holds an element of drama. Who knows what you might like?
5. Watch the videos
If you’re visiting a museum of contemporary art there will probably be video works available somewhere in the galleries. Guests will often walk pass them – maybe because they arrive in the middle of the film and don’t know how long it will take before it starts over, or maybe because we don’t have the patience to actually sit down and watch it when there’s so much else to look at. If you have the time, then try to watch a video work in it’s full length. They vary a great deal in their approach to the video media. Some will have a story line and others will be fragmented or sensuous and aesthetic. Look at the sign next to the work – it will most likely tell you how long the video is, so you know if you’re in for 5 or 40 minutes.