Short answer: To visit a museum, please find out where are some museums, then choose one. Then, come to that building, enter, buy a ticket, and enjoy! I’m sure you will.
Long answer: Start by thinking, what kind of museum would you like to visit?
You have probably found many of those must-visit lists. When in Dubrovnik, these must-visit places are generally anything where Game of Thrones was filmed. What if you don’t watch Game of Thrones? Hmm…
What does your “must-visit” list say about Paris? Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, and Versailles are the must-visit museums. Yeah. We know.
Then, let me tell you another phenomenon. Tourist marketing in collaboration with museums is usually a great thing, but it has flaws. Sometimes creators omit any thinking about who the real audiences really are, or what kind of people would be interested in the certain topic. Just a must-visit trap. There is an exhibition in the city. The exhibition features the artist X. But, the exhibition has only 3 of the artists’ works. Everything else is just about comparisons, analysis, and works of lesser-known artists who are somehow similar to the artist X.
Maybe the exhibition is great in terms of storytelling, but its title is a pure clickbait – or translated into the museum language, a visitbait. Maybe you would like to visit that exhibition. But probably, you were more interested in visiting the artist than learning anything about the context.
Welcome to the world of the glorious “must-visit” tourist traps.
I would like to suggest you to think what kind of museum would you really be interested to visit. Don’t expect anything to be magnificent, just look at the things the way they are. Instead of going for “must-visit” places with high expectations, go for something that sounds nice to you, with low expectations.
The thing I’m always sad to hear is…
“That place disappointed me. I expect it would be bigger/richer/more magnificent/you name it”.
After this long answer, the “visit a museum” part comes to the stage.
On the picture: An evening concert at the courtyard of the Rector’s Palace, Dubrovnik, Croatia
After selecting a museum to visit, here comes the time to check what is going on in that museum. One thing that can be extremely interesting and worth taking more time for a visit, are temporary exhibitions. Apart from anything we can find at any given moment in a museum, temporary exhibitions may provide additional information and therefore fun experience.
It’s also lovely to see concerts and conferences in museums, so never underestimate the power of an event calendar you can find on museums websites.
Just avoid getting surprised with the number of things to experience in museums combined with a lack of time.
Lack of time to visit a museum. Plan your time ahead.
Think about how much time do you need, and how much time do you really have. Bigger museums always require more time. The world’s biggest museums may require days or even weeks of coming back to see the entire collections. While the must-visit culture tells us that it’s “important” to see La Gioconda (Mona Lisa) while visiting Louvre, on a completely opposite wing of that monumental museum, you may find a kind of art you will appreciate a lot.
If you have two hours, consider checking the museum’s map. In the classical museums such as Louvre, each room takes you from 5 to 10 minutes to be observed carefully. You may spend even more time if you get attached to a specific work of art.
By setting goals and priorities, you will make your visit more relaxed, and probably feel more accomplished after the visit. However, don’t forget to have a break. Take a seat and just don’t think about anything.
Even though I recommend setting goals and priorities, it’s also good to stay flexible, because unexpected experiences may come as great surprises. It’s better to enjoy these possible unexpected moments than staying fixed to a strict schedule.
If you feel like leaving the museum before you fulfilled the time you planned to stay, don’t feel guilty. Some museums simply do not turn out to be something we expected. But, if you feel like staying longer in a museum, consider staying. Don’t make your general travel schedule too busy.
Are you visiting museums alone or accompanied?
What are the pros and cons of visiting museums alone and accompanied? Let me make some comparisons.
On the picture: Crowd in front of the Hieronymus Bosch triptych in Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon, Portugal
Visit a museum alone
Your rhythm is on your own. You can observe better, study the content, read the labels, everything without distractions.
You don’t have anyone to share your opinion with. You may feel a lack of other person’s opinion.
Visit a museum accompanied
You are likely to have more fun. It’s great to exchange ideas, impressions, jokes. You and your friend can help each other noticing details, different things…
You may not have enough time to choose individually how long do you want to stay in a certain room or in front of a specific object. It’s not likely that you will have time for introspection if you are accompanied.
The conclusion: Invite people who really love the topic of a specific museum to join you. When traveling with friends, family, or partner, talk about visiting museums before. Split between different museums if you have different interests and desires.
See also: Museums and Photographing
Don’t forget to have fun
On the picture: The classiest garage ever, isn’t it? 😉 (Queluz Palace, Sintra, Portugal)
Did I tell you that you are reading an article on the blog called “Fun Museums”?
If not, I apologize. So I assume that visiting museums is a fun experience, even if the topic and the content are not that fun.
Visiting museums is all about having fun while you are learning. Walk through the museum relaxedly. Do not stick to every single label. But, do not miss to read the label if you become curious about something.
As I wrote, some stories are serious. Be respectful when it’s necessary.