Museum Etiquette for Dummies: Do’s and Dont’s to Remember on Your Next Visit
Feb 21, 2023   •   Edgardo Toledo
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Feb 21, 2023   •   Edgardo Toledo
Over the weekend, two museumgoers were called out on social media after using a sculpture as a phone stand to film a Tiktok. It makes one realize that some people will really do anything ~*content*~. It looks like everyone needs a refresher on museum etiquette so, here’s a quick guide on the do’s and don’ts for your next museum visit. Take a look!
This rule should already be self-explanatory, but for some ~*weird*~ reason, others still can’t follow it.
Exhibit A: the aforementioned Tiktokers.
Exhibit B: a security guard was arrested by authorities after vandalizing an artwork at Yel’tsin Center in Russia. Look, everything you see inside museums or galleries, from sculptures and paintings to artifacts, holds so much value. They represent a piece of history or culture that must be preserved for the next generation to see.
Moreover, the slightest touch from your fingertips could leave dirt or oil that may ruin an artwork. You’re free to stare and appreciate whatever masterpiece you see, but make sure to keep your hands to yourself.
Although it’s rude to be noisy anywhere, you must watch your volume more inside museums. Keep your voice low when talking to avoid distracting other visitors. This includes taking phone calls. Don’t play loud music either! And most of all, avoid creating TikTok dance videos in front of sacred art.
There’s science behind why flash photography is prohibited in most museums. Some decades-old artworks are sensitive to light and may lead to discoloration. You can still take photos for the ‘gram, but remember to turn off your camera flash. Or better yet, keep your phone in your pocket and try to focus more on the experience in front of you.
You’re in a museum — not a restaurant or cafe, okay? The last thing museums want is to scrub off stains on artworks from snacks and drinks by irresponsible guests. That happened recently when a man (disguised as an old lady) threw a piece of cake at Mona Lisa in The Louvre. So instead of arming yourself with snacks, make sure you’re full before your museum tour to avoid the need to bring food.
Although most museums don’t impose uber-specific dress codes, it’s always best to dress modestly. You don’t want to distract other museumgoers with outfits that are too flashy or contain offensive images. Also, showing up in your pajamas is just plain rude. Respect (to a certain extent) comes in many forms, and dressing appropriately is one of them.
We get it, you want to record everything about your museum experience. However, many museums don’t own copyrights for all the artworks, and posting recorded videos online (without permission) may get them into legal trouble. It’s also worth noting everything inside is high-value, and some information leaks might jeopardize the museum’s safety. Some museums allow photos and videos, but to stay on the safe side, make sure to double-check the museum’s policy.
A selfie stick is probably the last thing you want to bring on your museum visit. Aside from the fact that it’s distracting, the possibility of accidentally knocking things over with it is very high. Do you really want all that hassle just for some photos? No!
You’re there to appreciate the exhibits, but you’re not the only person in the museum. When looking at something, try to stay a few steps back so other people can also admire the display. And if there’s a crowd around a display, don’t cut to the front. Instead, patiently wait for your turn to inspect the artwork. Be aware of your surroundings and take note of people around you to avoid bumping into them unintentionally.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to respect. As a visitor to a museum, you’re expected to be conscious of your actions and be mindful of other people’s experiences. Respect the artwork and people in the museum by following these guidelines, and you’ll have an enjoyable time!
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