If you’re a young person who’s thinking about visiting an art museum, here are a few things you should know that are not likely to be evident when you walk through the doors:
The minute you step through those doors, you are the most important person in the museum.
Everybody who works in the museum from the guards to the executive director is there to make sure you have a rewarding experience.
The rich people whose names are carved into the walls gave the museum a lot of money to make sure you have a rewarding experience.
Your experience in the museum is every bit as valuable and important as anyone else’s.
The artists are all speaking to you.
The artists are trying to speak to the people with the headphones, but they can’t hear because they’re wearing headphones.
You are fully qualified to decide what is good and bad.
You don’t have to like anything.
You don’t have to understand anything.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find a few things you do like and want to understand.
You can spend your whole visit with the things you like.
You’re free to ignore things that look boring.
You’re free to laugh at anything you find silly.
If the sign next to the art sounds like pretentious nonsense, it’s because the lady who wrote it was talking to people who work in other art museums.
People who run art museums are mega nerds.
Most of the art you see was never meant to be in a museum.
You’re allowed to find the whole thing amazing or ridiculous or both.
The museum is extremely fortunate that you decided to come (art museum attendance is in steady decline).
You can leave and never come back, or you can leave and come back often: Both options are valid.
Now, the message you’ll get from the museum will be very different, but don’t let that concern you. People who run art museums have decided that they are unusually important, and many have forgotten that you’re the reason they’re there.
So print this list before you go, take it with you, read it just before you walk through the doors – and feel free to hand it to anyone who looks like they’ve been made to feel small.
Be the most important person in the museum.
Find art you like.
Laugh when it’s funny.
Have a great time.