Today we are going to talk about how to visit an art museum, which may seem like an easy thing to do: step one, go to the museum; step two, visit the museum; step three, get something out of the experience. But believe me, it isn’t as easy as it seems and there are some tricks to know in order to have a truly successful visit to a museum.

First of all, wear quiet and sensible shoes because you don’t want to grab the attention every time you make a few steps. You also want to be able to stand in front of a work of art without thinking about how much your feet hurt.

Before you even go, you should also check the museum’s website to make sure they’re open and, most importantly, to figure out if there is a way you can get in for free. If this is not the case, present your student card at the front desk since many museums offer special prices for students.

Some museums are free to visit.

Also, when checking at the front desk, make sure to get a map. This is also your chance to ask the attendant what you shouldn’t miss, which makes me think about an important thing: don’t hesitate to ask questions. It’s ok. People want you to ask questions because they are here to help you.

Now let me give you some general pointers on how to behave in galleries. Assume that you cannot touch anything unless there are instructions stating otherwise. If you’re not sure whether you can touch something, ask a guard. Again, don’t be afraid to ask. They will be thrilled that you have asked. The same goes for taking photos. Ask for the photo policy of the museum. One thing I like to do when I take photos in galleries is to also take a pic of the label. It’s a good way of remembering later what you saw and handy when properly attributing your photo when posting them online.

Spend all the time you want in the gallery. You can start by just walking through it without taking out your camera or even reading labels. Let just your eyes and brain do the work. Then you can go back and take a longer look at works you found interesting or ones you might want to take a pic of or notes about.

Consider the people around you. If you’re lucky enough to run into one of the few benches across the show, don’t spread out your jacket and bag on it. You can take a break for a minute and then should leave the place to others.

Avoid taking a quick nap in the gallery

Finally, don’t forget that all your decisions and how you want to experience the museum should be guided by what’s working, what makes you feel emotionally and intellectually engaged. I think it is also great to go to galleries and shows to experience things which you might be skeptical of at first. Don’t be afraid of dark galleries, stay curious, interested and passionate.

Some nearby museums you may want to visit:

  • Musée de design et d’arts appliqués contemporains (MUDAC)
  • Musée de l’Elysée (Lausanne)
  • Fondation de l’Hermitage
  • Collection de l’art brut

And also :

  • Musée de la main (Lausanne)
  • Musée olympique (Lausanne)
  • Fondation Gianadda (Martigny)
  • Stiftung Beyeler (Basel)
  • Kunsthaus (Zürich)
  • Kunstmuseum (Bern)

Alexandre Lachat