10 Tips to Take Museum Visits from Mundane to Marvelous!

1. Plan It! Most museums have a “plan your visit” section on their websites. It’s a great resource for knowing best times to visit, museum hours, and any exhibitions or activities that may be offered. If you’re going with kids, they also list activities geared towards children, like art classes or activity booklets. Make it fun!

2. Skip the Line – Many world-renowned museums offer a “skip the line” option for a small fee, either directly or through a tour company. I usually just do a quick search on the internet. Trust me – Its worth every penny, especially if you have kids in tow!

3. Hit the Trail – Museums are trying to make themselves more “user-friendly” and want to appeal to a younger audience. Many now offer “trails”, which are little guides that take you through collections or themes, making them fun or relevant by putting them in context with stories or other engaging insights. Also, ask at the information desk, as they may have a Top 10 trail or a “if you only have an hour” trail. Some even have them on their websites (Met in NYC or the British Museum). Take a look. If you don’t see what you like, you can always use it as a template to make your own!

4. Don’t overdo it! - Some museums have so much to look at, it’s just plain overwhelming! If you’re visiting one of the larger museums, consider just doing a section or two and not trying to cover the whole thing. Focus on what sparks your interest! I like to set a time limit. That way, I manage my own expectation!

5. Take a tour – there are several tours available at museums! When the kids were little, we would engage a tour guide geared towards kids (perfect for us too!). Be very clear, on what you want to accomplish. For us, it was just a “tasting menu” with stories and fun activities or questions to make it interesting for them. Audio tours or docents are also a great option.

6. Hit the gift shop first! – What?! I can’t say my husband agrees with this one, but hear me out. Usually museum gift shops have postcards or various products displaying the art that is housed there. A fun activity is to go and find some postcards that you like or are interesting to you. Then, make your own treasure hunt, finding the various objects that are on the postcards! Favorite museum gift shop – National Museum of Art in Washington DC

7. Break! – I absolutely love museum cafes! Usually they have great food and are in interesting surroundings. Take a break after you’ve checked out a section of the museum and re-fuel. Let all that good stuff you’ve learned soak in before trying to absorb any more! One of my favorites is behind the clock at the Musee D’Orsay. Encroyable!

8. Don’t overlook the little guys! – There are several wonderful, smaller museums that are much more manageable, but still offer great collections and inspiration. I like to go to single artist museums, such as the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, or the Chihuly museum in Seattle.

9. Follow your interests! There are so many different kinds of museums out there! What do you like? After living in Europe for awhile, the kids were tired of traditional museums. So, we looked up things that would be more fun for them, like the Chocohistory museum in York (yep, all about the history of chocolate with free tasting throughout the whole tour) or the ABBA museum in Stockholm where you can record your own version of “Dancing Queen”!

10. Last tip – Do what makes you happy! Remember, art is in the eye of the beholder! If you don’t like something that everyone else raves about – move on! It’s a wonderful thing that we all have our own perspective!

We hope these simple tips make your next museum outing fun and fabulous1 Remember, its your show and you can curate it however you want! Go get inspired!

TravelHeather Schwarm