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Before You Go: Four Tips for Visiting an Art Museum

Before You Go: Four Tips for Visiting an Art Museum

February 24, 2016 | Ami Davis, Director of Education and Community Partnerships | Blog, Education, Tips

Have you ever wondered how to make the most out of a visit to an art museum? The Monterey Museum of Art recently conducted an audience study to learn how we can better serve our community, both our Museum Members, as well as those who have never visited us. The feedback we received inspired us to try to do a better job helping people get the best out of their visits to our museum.
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Come as you are. How do museum visitors dress? How do they act? Well, like you. There is no dress code for visiting an art museum, and no secret language. Do you live in Monterey? Salinas? Carmel? King City? All are more than welcome. Do you have kids? Babies? Grandkids? Family groups can have a fantastic time at the Museum, sending each other on scavenger hunts, drawing together, or discussing what an artwork reminds them of. We also have comfy lounge areas and friendly, knowledgeable, helpful staff.
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Take your timeVisitor studies have shown that people spend an average of 30 seconds or fewer looking at a work of art. Try slowing down using the exercise below:

  1. Enter a gallery, and take a look around the room. Are you drawn to a particular work of art?
  2. Stand in front of a work of art for a few moments. If it’s three dimensional, walk around it.
  3. If you are with a friend, take turns listing all the items you notice in the artwork. If you’re alone, list them in your mind or on a piece of paper.
  4. Does the work of art make you feel an emotion?
  5. Bonus challenge: do the above exercise with an artwork you particularly dislike on first glance. After some close looking, do you feel differently? Why or why not?
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Ask questions. We have knowledgeable Gallery Guides who are there to help you engage with art in any way you wish. Maybe your question is, “Where did this artist live?” or “Is this a painting of a real place, or an imaginary one?” or maybe you prefer to explore on your own. How you experience art is up to you. And if we don’t know the answer, we’ll do our best to find out for you.
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Make something. Pencils and paper are always welcome. MMA offers paper and colored pencils, free of charge. Feel free to doodle a detail. Write a poem that is inspired by looking at an artwork, or write down a story from your life that an artwork reminds you of. Many of our galleries feature hands-on artmaking, easy writing projects, games, and conversation-starters for all ages. You can even share a photo on your public Instagram account and see it on-screen in some of our gallery spaces. Take a photo with your smartphone and post in on social media with #montereyart.

At MMA, we feel that art museums should be places for socializing, relaxing, learning, and magnets for gatherings. Share your meaningful encounters with works of art, at any museum, in the comments below.
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Ami_Davis_BlogAbout the Author
Ami Davis has been an art museum educator since 1998. She works toward making art significant and dynamic for all communities, whether that community is a K-12 school group, lifelong learners, families, museum volunteers, or museum staff. She is dedicated to contributing to the transformation of art museums into vital, 21st-
century institutions that maintain relevancy in and make a positive impact on our communities.


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