6 Tips for Visiting Museums During Your Semester Abroad

April 19, 2019

If there is one thing any of my friends would say about me, it’s that I love museums. I have been visiting at least one per week during my time abroad. I know not everyone loves visiting museums as much as I do. You might feel like you don’t even know what to do in a museum. That’s why I am sharing a few tips that will make you a professional museum-goer during your time abroad!

1. Less is more.

Seriously, don’t try to see it all. If you try to look at every painting in the Louvre, you will come back out not remembering any of them. It’s okay to only really look at one painting in each room, or to skip areas you’re not enthused about.

2. Try new kinds of museums.

Yes, there are different kinds of museums! Visiting lots of different types from modern art to archaeological is the best way to figure out what you most enjoy so you can prioritize which museums to visit. You may discover something in a less well-known museum that becomes your favorite sculpture, painting, etc.

3. Bring your student ID!

We’re all students here, and we’re traveling on a budget. It’s a lot easier to convince yourself to try something new when it’s been steeply discounted. Every public museum and a lot of private museums offer a student discount with ID. I typically spend €3-12 euro to get into a museum, a steal for getting to see priceless art and artifacts.

4. When applicable, go chronologically.

There have been more than a few times where I find myself totally confused in a history museum, only to realize I have been going around the room backwards. Oftentimes museums organize exhibits chronologically, so unless you want to travel back in time instead of forward, try to start from the beginning.

5. Don’t get too caught up in taking pictures of famous artwork.

Honestly, it’s probably not worth it. You have finally fought your way to the front of the crowd in front of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus or Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and instead of being able to focus on admiring the work in front of you you’re trying to get a shot on your phone without someone else’s selfie stick in the frame. We’ve all been there. The great thing about famous things? You can buy a postcard, which is going to turn out way better than any smartphone photo.

6. Use your imagination.

Visiting museums is something you will enjoy way more if you do it actively rather than passively. Standing in a palace, imagine the lives of the people that lived there. In front of ancient ruins, picture what they would have looked like when they were built. Consider what the artist was trying to convey with their art. It’s worth taking the extra time and energy to think about what you are seeing, because that’s the experience you’ll remember years in the future.

Next time you’re out in the world and see a museum that looks interesting, go inside and try to use one of the suggestions above! Your time abroad is going to give you so many opportunities to see something amazing.

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