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For The Person Who Struggles to Draw A Stick Figure: A Simple Guide to Art Museums

I am not an artist. Despite my best attempts, I became painfully aware of this throughout my elementary and middle school years. The obligatory art classes became a source of dread for me because I knew that whatever I did, the piece would never be as good as I imagined it to be. So, when it came to the world of art museums, I automatically assumed this wasn’t for me. It seemed like everyone around me was either an artist or knew an exorbitant amount of art history. And I? Well, I was neither. 

However, I realized late into high school how absolute BS that idea was. Art museums are for everyone of different artistic knowledge and abilities! If you’re still feeling a little lost, I have some helpful tips and tricks to get the most out of your art museum trip.   

Audio Guides

Almost all art museums will have some sort of an audio guide. They aren’t just there for old people! Use them! These audio tours will give you more background information on artists or pieces that you would have just strolled by. Some museums, such as the Isabella Stewart Gardner here in Boston, have the audio tours online free of charge! Then you can use your own iPhone and earbuds and you don’t have to borrow a device used by hundreds of others. 


We use our phones for all sorts of reasons, so why not use it to get the most out of your next museum trip? There are apps such as WikiArt, Google Arts & Culture, and Artsy that can help you research the pieces in front of you. You can even use these in the privacy of your own home to discover some new pieces!

Read the signs

Most museums have signs next to the pieces indicating the name of the piece, the artist, and even where it is from. If I take a picture of the piece, I always take a picture of the sign next to it so I can always remember it for later. You can also use one of the apps previously mentioned (or even just Google search it) to look up similar pieces or pieces by the same artist.

Take an Art History Class

If you have the means to, I definitely recommend taking an artist history class. My true love for art and art museums sprang from an art class I took my senior year of high school. We talked about different eras of art throughout history and why humans create art. We began the class by talking about William from The Met in New York City, and this actually inspired me to go visit William! After walking around The Met, I was so inspired to begin researching and visiting art any chance I could.

With all of these tips in mind, please know that how you interact with art is purely up to you. You can visit art museums without knowing anything about the art or artists. Heck, you can even go to admire the colors in the pieces alone! Being able to visit museums and engage with art is truly one of the most incredible things, and I hope these tips help you out the next time you go. 

Olivia is a sophomore Writing, Literature, and Publishing major at Emerson College. At any given moment, you can find her talking about books on her blog, petting dogs in the Boston Common, or impulse buying a plant or two. Ask her what musical she is currently listening to; she's dying to tell you.
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