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If You're Not a Fan of Museums: Look With New Eyes!

How to visit a museum even if you don't like them or don't feel comfortable visiting museums

Wall of paintings in a museum. Look with new eyes at museums, even if you're not a fan
Paintings in a museum may or may not appeal to everyone

Museums can be thought of as boring, overly scholarly, stale, or out-of-touch. And you may not have visited a museum since an elementary school field trip. However, your significant other might like museums. Or you might have decided to give museums a new try. Here are some suggestions for how you might visit a museum even if you don't like them.

Don't follow the crowd

Most museums have their "greatest hit." It might be a dinosaur, or a painting by a famous artist, or a chair sat in by a famous person, or a science activity that is well-loved. It's fine if none of those appeal to you. Find your own way! If most of the visitors are going to the right, go to the left. If the first gallery is packed, skip it and move towards the back of the museum. As long as it's not a museum with a required path or guided tour, make your own path.

Ask for ideas

Most museums have maps and printed gallery guides but you don't have to use those. Ask the greeter or ticket seller what their favorite object is in the museum. Ask one of the security staff, or anyone in a uniform or with a badge, what you should see and do. Front-line employees often have a different perspective than whoever in the marketing department that wrote the gallery guides.

Ignore the labels

Lots of museum labels pack in the information but are not very interesting. Don't feel compelled to read any labels. Instead, look at the art or artifacts or polished stones or animals and ask yourself which one would you draw if you were in an art class? Which one relates to your hobby? Which one would you want to tell a friend about? While one reminds you of your grandma?

Consider your hobby

Woodworking shop. Look with new eyes at museums, even if you don't like them.
Woodworking and museums go together

If you do woodworking, look for frames on paintings or historic furniture that might give you ideas for your next project. If you're a quilter or textile craft person, find historic textiles to admire. Or, examine portrait paintings for lace, cut velvet, or satin. If you're a gardener, look for historic gardening tools. If you hike, look for landscape paintings and imagine where you would wander if you could walk into that painting.

Ignore the artifacts and find relaxation

Old stone wall with foliage
Outdoor museum venues can be intriguing and relaxing

Museums can be an excellent source of respite. Find a place to sit in a gallery or on a bench in the kitchen garden or on a seat among the sculptures, and just sit. People watch. Listen in on conversations. Doodle on a notepad. Find one object that catches your eye and practice slow-looking, examining that object in detail and see what you notice after a few minutes that you didn't notice at first. Museums and wellbeing are a good fit!

Museums may have more to offer than you realize

If you give museums a chance, they may have more to offer than you think. Visit under your terms, looking for what appeals to you. You might be pleasantly surprised!

What could museums do to make themselves more welcoming to you? Have you ever thought of sharing your thoughts with a museum?


Books About Museums, Travel, Culture, & Wellbeing 

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