How to Visit an Art Gallery

Visiting an Art Gallery can be fun and exhilarating depending on your interests.


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    Determine how much time you want to spend in a venue in a single session. For example, all the works in the Philadelphia Art Museum can be casually and comfortably browsed in 2-3 hours. A local gallery store-front can be browsed in 5 or 10 minutes.
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    Determine what primary art mediums you are interested in: Painting, sculpture, oils, watercolors, modern, realism, representational, classical, and so on. This will help you figure out which venues to visit.
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    To figure out which mediums you have an interest in, browse through art history books, magazines, and find out which ones look aesthetically pleasing. You might also find which time periods and movements you fancy as well.
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    Most major cities have multiple venues for viewing art. If you live in a place like New York, try the Metropolitan Art Museum in NYC for your first visit. This museum has one of the greatest variety of styles and artists and cover a wide range of art history. You can find all the venues in the Yellow Pages or museum and gallery directory, if you can find one. The Internet is also a great resource.
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    On your first visit, get a map of the museum collection (from the front desk - they always have one) and become familiar with where things are. Develop a plan of what order you will visit each gallery in the museum. Then finish off that floor and move up to the next floor, and so on.
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    Take more time with the art work that especially interests you. In fact, if you find some art that particularly pleases you, you might want to spend 10 or 20 minutes with it to absorb all the meaning. See it from a distance and as close as the guards will allow.
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    Take some time to answer these questions. See the brush strokes - how do they flow? Capture the overall design of the artwork. Does it seem to have sections? How about the colors? Are they spectacular or dull? If it is a portrait does it seem to send you a message? Sometimes in a painting a few red or orange specs of color make the painting very exciting. If it is a modern painting or sculpture can you tell the theme without looking at the nameplate? What shades of blue did the artist use? Some shades affect our circadian cycles and put us in a good frame of mind (perhaps to sleep).
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    As you go through the museum, do you recognize any art from the art books you looked at to get ready for the visit? How does the real version compare?
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    At the end of the tour, try to re-visualize what you saw. This will encourage your brain to remember.


  • By all means take a date. Before I was married, the museum was a great way of establishing mutual interests and bonding with a new partner. It also allows you to talk in softer voices and be closer together.
  • Most museums expect either a donation or have an outright admission fee. These are usually modest in the range a few dollars, but some museums (in New York, for example, MoMA) may charge up to $20.
  • If you are taking a business trip, be sure to schedule some time in at least one of the local museums. It only takes a couple of hours and will provide immeasurable pleasure.
  • Any time is the best time to go to a museum. Of course it has to be open. Call them if you don't already have their schedule. If the museum is open in the evening or during the week and you can get off from work, these are good times to go. To avoid crowds stay away from the weekends.
  • For this reason I prefer not to go to a museum opening to view art. However, an opening is a good way to meet people who have the same interests as yourself. And a smaller gallery opening may be the only time to see the art. They typically have shorter exhibitions.
  • If you have an artist friend, plan a trip to the museum together and let the artist explain the paintings. It will give them much pleasure to juxtapose the pieces for you in an interesting manner.
  • Most large museums have a shop where you can buy catalogs of paintings by famous artists or catalogs of the works in the museum. By all means, begin developing a collection of art books for your home. It is a great way to remember the trip.


  • Be prepared to check your belongings. Most museums will not allow you to take pictures or carry your camera. They have a place you can check these.
  • Museum going might become habitual. It then becomes a lifetime need which has no antidote.
  • If you want to make sketches, you will in almost all cases need to ask permission. Call ahead if you plan to do this. I once wanted to take black and white pictures at the Philadelphia Museum. I called ahead and was given a one day pass to do so as long as I did not use flash.

Things You'll Need

  • An art history book/magazine. (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Exhibited Arts