Whether you love museums or have to be dragged by your hair, having a plan will make the experience more enjoyable.
Step 1: Wear comfortable shoes Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be standing most of the time, so happy feet are essential.
Step 2: Allow plenty of time Arrive well fed and with plenty of time. Nothing will ruin your day faster than waiting in line at the café and then dashing to see an exhibit in minutes while the loudspeaker reminds you the museum is closing.
TIP: If you’re visiting a museum that has a big tourist attraction, like the Louvre’s 'Mona Lisa' in Paris, arrive at opening time, when you’re less likely to have to bob and weave behind a crowd to get a peek.
Step 3: Get a map Pick up a map as soon as you enter the museum and take a few moments to acquaint yourself with the exhibits and layout. Ask if the museum offers a free tour, or consider renting a self-guided audio tour.
Step 4: Survey the gift shop Visit the gift shop. It may sound strange, but you’re not here to buy. Take a quick survey of the postcards and posters to ensure that you don’t miss the museum’s most popular attractions. Circle them on your map.
Step 5: Prepare a route Jot down what you most want to see, and then figure out a general route that makes sense.
TIP: Keep your eye on the time. If you’re not confident you’ll be able to see everything on your list, you might have to skip around to what you most want to see.
Step 6: Wander Wander the exhibits, reading the text that accompanies the collections or pieces that capture your attention. Don’t feel like you have to see every single thing—that way you’ll have time to enjoy those that appeal to you most.
Step 7: Take breaks Allow for at least one break to rest your feet and keep your perspective fresh.
TIP: Don’t be a slave to your itinerary; you may find that what moves you most is not on your list.
Step 8: Visit the gift shop Visit the gift shop again, but this time allow yourself to actually shop! Not only can you find some great gifts, but by perusing the fancy books, you can find out more about the exhibits you just saw.
FACT: There are approximately 17,500 museums in the United States, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.