You have decided to make the most out of the visit to a particular art museum. Taking in art can be an enjoyable and educational experience, provided that you allow sufficient time for your visit. Here is how to make the most of your next art museum visit.

1. Choose your museum. There are so many different types of museums available. Some feature paintings with an emphasis on the contemporary or classical, while others offer more of a variety including European art, modernism, period art and others. Beyond that you will find museums that have sculptures, textiles, automobiles and other artistic representations. Choose the type of museum you want to visit and begin to plan accordingly.

2. Time is of the essence. If your time is limited, then clearly what you can get from your visit will also be limited. Even so, you can still enjoy your visit with less than an hour to spare. At the larger museums, choose one gallery to visit and that gallery alone. You won’t feel rushed and you will see everything in that one exhibit. If you like what you see, then plan a follow up visit that allows for more time to take in the rest of the museum.

3. Review the collections and exhibits before heading out. You know what your timeframe is. You probably also know which museums are of interest to you. An Internet search can reveal local museums; a visit to can narrow those museums to a particular city. Read the visitor reviews and then click on the link to the museum’s website to learn about its hours, admission cost, parking or public transportation access. Choose the museum that aligns with your desires as well as its hours and your budget.

4. Review the museum’s layout. Museums offer a hard copy map of the facility, helpful for learning where everything is. Even so, a copy of the map is usually posted to the museum’s website. Find the map, review it, and plan your visit accordingly. If you are pressed for time, then choose the area of the museum that you will visit. Otherwise, you can visit at your leisure. Plan to take in the kinds of artwork that interest you the most. This is important especially as you visit the museum the size of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City where it is nearly impossible to see everything in one day.

5. Self-guided or group tour. When visiting a museum, you are free to visit what you want and at the pace that you want. For some people, a guided tour is preferred as that gives them the opportunity to hear what the docent has to say about the various pieces in an exhibit. Consider the guided tour, especially if you are not familiar with a certain type of art. You might also consider a headphone guided tour where you control the medium as you make your way around the museum.

6. Evaluate what you see. As you observe a particular piece, you can silently evaluate what the artist is attempting to convey. Take note of the energy or lack of the same as you evaluate each piece. With paintings, you will find watercolors or oils. How do these colors work to present an emotive experience? What kind of mood does the painting or sculpture give you? Have you seen this work before in a magazine or in an art book? These three are just some of the questions you might ask yourself as you make your evaluation. The goal here is to learn something, walking away from a piece enriched by the experience.

Museum Considerations

Visiting a museum should be an enjoyable experience. If you have young children, your visit can be constrained by their needs. In that case, you might be better off arranging for a sitter to allow you and your spouse to enjoy the visit yourselves.

Most museums ask for donations while others require an admission payment. If a special exhibit is being shown, you can expect to pay a separate charge for access. Special exhibits may be in high demand too, requiring you to obtain a reservation and make your payment in advance.

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