Museum Etiquette

Visting an art museum for those who have never been can be a daunting experience. What do I look at? and how long for? Should I get an audio guide? or are they just an enterprise to con gullible tourists out of thier last few pounds? The latest video from ‘The Art Assignment‘ helps to answer a few of these questions.


I highly recommend watching Sarah’s video first, but here is a quick recap of the points she covers.

  1. Wear comfortable shoes
  2. Check the website to see when they are open and whether you can get in for free (very few museums or galleries in London require an entry fee to view the collection)
  3. Pick up a map and ask question, such as which pieces you shouldn’t miss or which are the busiest
  4. Assume that you can not touch any pieces unless told otherwise- if you are unsure ask a security guard
  5. If you want to take a photo, ask first. Never use flash
  6. If you do take a photo, take a picture of the blurb to insure you can properly annotate your images on social media or simply for future reference.
  7. When watching videos, make room for others by placing your bag on the floor or your lap. Also do not stand in the doorway if there is space in the room

I would like to add a few points of my own

  1. Consider that school holidays or weekends are likely to be the busiest times, particularly if you are visiting a museum targeted toward children such as The Natural History Museum or The Science Museum. Famous museums, the Tate Galleries or British Museum for example, will always be busy- there is no way of avoiding this.
  2. Try not to visit if it is raining. Musuems are never busier than when it’s raining.
  3. Take in to consideration the other people in the room. Try speak to softly, and avoid standing directly in front of others viewing a piece. I find this happens to me frequently as I am short and young!
  4. Be mindful of those drawing or sketching from the work- we are often sitting on the floor and I have been trodden on too many times!
  5. This tip is only for newbies- Take the audioguide, they often feature basic information about the artists, important area of the pieces and context about their lives. For those who have an art education or frequently visit galleries, you may find the audioguides already covers your knowledge.

Most importantly, Enjoy yourself. Visit museums and galleries regularly, and take pleasure in viewing art.


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