Tips For An Interesting Museum Visit

museum

Photo courtesy of Papalars.

Museums. For some people they lead to a feeling of anticipation while others picture an hour’s worth of yawns. Whichever camp you fall into, there’s no denying museums are treasure troves of interesting information that can give you insight into the destination and culture you’re visiting. To help you enjoy your next museum visit, here are some tips on how to make visiting a museum more exciting.

Tailor The Experience To An Interesting Facet Of Local Culture

When visiting a new destination, think about a particular facet you’re interested in learning more about. Maybe it’s fashion, the coffee culture or the Native tribes. Take a look at local museums you can visit that pertain to this and, from there, focus your exploration of the museum on exhibits, events and collections that are relevant. It will make the museum experience feel much less overwhelming than if you simply went in and tried to take in absolutely everything, while also giving the visit a focus.

Visit When There’s An Event Going On

Most museums host regular events and demonstrations, whether it be cultural dance performances, concerts, lectures, festivals, film screenings, gallery talks or something else entertaining and informative. Attending a museum during one of these events can help make the experience come alive, which also means it will be more interesting to you.

Opt For A Tour

When touring a museum on our own the many artifacts and textual descriptions can begin to bluer together, with your tired eyes unable to really process what you’re viewing. To help the collections and exhibits make more sense, opt for a tour with a knowledgeable guide who can explain what it is you’re looking at. Usually these people know interesting facts and stories that can help personalize the information you’re learning about and make it more interesting. Seeing a piece of Mayan pottery is neat, but hearing about how it was used during religious ceremonies and when making offerings to the gods will have your interest perked without having to strain your eyes reading the information cards.

mayan ruins mexico

Mayan ruins at the Temple of the Foliated Cross in Pelanque, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Dennis Jarvis.

Make A Plan To Explore Further

Don’t just visit a museum, look at a few exhibits and leave, forgetting about what you’ve learned — put it into practice and explore it further. For example, browsing a local art museum might lead you to take a local handicraft class, or learning about an ancient culture might lead you to make a day trip to nearby ruins. Allow what you see at the museum to mentally move you in a way that leads you to take action.

Make A Game Out Of It

Instead of just looking around without a goal, challenge yourself. See how much you can learn about a historical figure, how many interesting facts you can find on 16th-century artwork or if you can seek out a bizarre historical story. You can even play some Eye Spy and try to find certain colors, figures or words. The catch is, once you’ve spotted something you must memorize one interesting tidbit about it.

Take Notes

One habit some people have when visiting a museum is roaming around in a distracted fashion, looking at exhibits but not really taking them in. Taking notes on what you see forces you to pay attention to what you’re seeing and retain information, making your museum experience more interesting and worth your time.

Only Visit Museums That Interest You

Most importantly, don’t just go to a museum to say you’ve gone. Only visit institutions that actually hold your attention. If you have no interest in airplanes, visiting an aviation museum will probably be boring; however, if you find aircrafts fascinating an aviation museum will be an enlightening experience.

This article was originally published on Jessie on a Journey. Featured image courtesy of Shots Studio via Shutterstock.

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Jessica Festa

Jessica Festa is the editor of Epicure & Culture as well as Jessie on a Journey. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia, agritouring through Tuscany, and volunteering in Ghana.

5 Comments

  1. Museums are actually something I want to prioritize visiting. I can’t say I’ve ever been to one that was not part of a school trip. I’m a total history/culture nerd and there are so many great museums on the East coast, I really just need to go to one. With a notebook and pen, of course! 😉

    1. @Sky: If you’re ever in Brooklyn I need to take you to NYC’s quirkiest museum — The City Reliquary. It tells the history of the city through random artifacts, like rat bones and old subway coins, and then does rotating exhibits on local artisans and culture. And there’s beer 🙂 I love it!

  2. Hi Jessa: Thanks for a unique post. Your advice to make a game out of your museum stroll is smart. Wondering around a museum without a deliberate goal leaves me walking away without remembering anything I saw. Next time you’re in San Diego check out the San Diego Museum of Art. I haven’t seen this exhibit yet, but I plan to very soon! The photographer explores issues surrounding the role of Arab women and all photographs are life-size. They look amazing! http://www.sdmart.org/art/exhibit/lalla-essaydi

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