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How to visit an art museum


I've always loved going to art museums. There's just something great about seeing original art, not just photos of them. I like looking at the brushstrokes, the size of the paintings, or whatever. And I think that it surprises a lot of people when they see what I'm doing.

Art museums can be very confusing for many people. It all has to do with how we were taught to behave in public spaces. Most of the people that I know will immediately head to the gift shop, or go talk to someone. Maybe they'll go looking for a guided tour. And it seems such a shame, a waste of the wonder of an art museum. Try this:

• Go look at the artwork. Stand back, walk up close, anything you want. All museums have a little sign next to the painting that gives the name of the artist, what the painting is called, when it was done, that sort of thing.

• Get out of the way. There are a lot of places to stand around and socialize, but try to avoid doing it in front of the artwork. Yes, you have the right to go look at something, and stand in front of it - and you should. But if you're just chatting, please find somewhere else to do it.

• Ask realistic questions to the people behind the counter. They may or may not know when Picasso began his blue period, but they know where different things are in the museum. I try to smile and be courteous to these people, many of whom are volunteers, or young people just doing the best they can, but I don't expect them to be teaching class in art history.

• Stay away from the guided tours. Walking around in a crowd of people, looking and listening to someone talk in front of that crowd, is the worst way to enjoy an art museum. I think we learn this type of behavior in grade school, and never seem to question it when we grow up. Break away from the crowd, go look at stuff. If you have questions, Google them on your iPhone, or save them to research later.  Luckily, most people cluster together in guided tour groups, so all you have to do is to stay away from the crowd.

By the way, everything interest me in an art museum, from the architecture of the building, to the frames on the paintings, to the displays. So if you're wondering what I'm looking at, it's everything. Now go enjoy!