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6 Tips For Visiting A Museum

by Bill Sweeney
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A museum is an amazing place. It entertains, it educates, and it tells a little bit about the area/town/city it’s in. It’s a top destination for many tourists, but it should be one for residents as well. We always say how great it is to live near NYC and have access to some of the best museums in the world. Bonus, the kids love it too. But in today’s heads down, phone-obsessed world, are people getting the most out of their visits to the museum?

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This spring, a new kind of art show is coming to Miami. From May 14 – May 30, the Dori Gilinski Gallery will hold a pop-up exhibition aimed at disrupting the gallery industry. Ms. Gilinski put together a great list of tips on how to best enjoy a visit to a museum.


  1. Slow down
    • It is tempting to feel like you want to conquer it all and see every piece during your visit, but more can be gained from finding 2-3 paintings that you really connect with and spending time with them. I learnt to really look at a painting on a trip to the Tate Modern in London with Picasso expert Christopher Green. He instructed his students to pick a painting we liked, and to simply stand in front of it for 20 minutes taking it in. The experience of looking at art in this way contrasts hugely with the usual habit of museum goers who dart from canvas to canvas. The average visitor spends 15 to 30 seconds in front of a work of art according to museum researchers. Try to spend 15 to 30 minutes on a special piece to really make the most of your visit.
  2. Do your research
    • Before your visit, check out what special exhibitions may be on for a limited amount of time. Be sure to see the museum’s website for any interesting lectures or events such as tours led by the curator, which could enhance your experience of the visit.
  3. Limit use of your phone
    • Resist the urge to Instagram – as tempting as it might be to share with your followers every moment of your visit, try to experience it through your own eyes and not through the screen of your phone. One of the things that struck me most when I worked for a gallery during Art Basel Miami was how little people actually engaged with the works. The gallery was exhibiting a rare and beautiful painting by Picasso of his lover Dora Maar. It definitely merited the attention of visitors, but most people would just snap a photo as “I was here” evidence and would hastily move on. Be in the moment and take in the art for yourself.
  4. If possible, avoid weekends and holidays
    • You will be able to eschew lines and get the museum for yourself without the crowds. My favorite time to go are weekday mornings. Another great option lots of museums are now offering is “museum lates” – nights when the doors stay open past closing time for you to get your culture fix after hours.
  5. Read the labels
    • These are the notecards usually adjacent to the canvas itself. You will definitely find clues to help you understand the paintings a bit better. The title of the work could point out themes within the work, and the date it was created could help you place the piece within its historical context. Art is a way to study a culture, its history, and its values – let the canvas guide you in your understanding.
  6. Look for the humanity in the work
    • It is easy for your senses to become overwhelmed when you are looking at so many paintings at once, but think of the task of visiting a museum differently: try connect with the human being behind the work. Try to bond with the man or woman of flesh and blood who put a paintbrush against a blank canvas to create the piece before you. Get into his or her skin. What was the artist up to when he made the painting? What are her fears, her aspirations, her mindset? Do you find resonance with your own life? Use art as a launching pad for self-reflection. 

Dori Gilinsky By Gio Alma 2013-1783 Ready LOW RES

As a private art consultant, Dori Gilinski has held private exhibitions in London, New York, Panama City, and Bogota. This is her first show open to the public.

To find out more about the Dori Gilinski Gallery, please check out DoriGilinskiGallery.com

Photos courtesy of Blink PR.

6 Tips For Visiting A Museum was last modified: March 24th, 2016 by Bill Sweeney

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1 comment

Jennifer March 24, 2016 - 11:55 AM

Great tips!


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