Our two MET hosts, enthusiastic artist Mark Venaglia and funny lady Erin Thompson, teamed up to bring you five things that will make your museum-going experience incredible. We’ll give you one chance to guess who contributed each tip.
1. Time It Right
Allow an hour and 15 minutes – which is the normal saturation point. After about an hour and fifteen, be ready to move on to the next thing (coffee at the museum cafe), you can then schedule another 45 if you’ve paid a ton of money to get in.
Also, arrive late and leave at closing. It’s the best way to avoid crowds and museum goons who don’t understand how to maneuver through a museum with elegance and courtesy. You more likely to encounter a museum ghost at closing, too.
My favorite people-watching games are “You Wore What Shoes?” and “Who’s the Most Miserable?” – i.e., the grandfather who collapses onto every bench he can find with a big sigh, or the 13-year-old boy burdened both by his parents and an unfortunate mustache?
3. Do You Like It?
A really really really important thing to remember is that even if you think you know nothing about art, you still have a perfectly valid opinion of what you’re looking at. Very simple “do you like it?” and then, for the lengthier aspect “What IN THIS art makes me like it?” What do your eyes tell you?
Only then: read the little cards, you’ll often be amazed how you discovered the same elements written on the cards just by exploring the work of art with your own eyes and co-ordinated sensibilities.
4. Hidden Naughty Bits
Look for hidden penises. Artists have usually always been the goofy, out-there members of society, and they must have gotten pretty bored painting portraits of dukes or their three thousandth scene of a saint’s life, because damn, there are a lot of bulges in togas/ robes/ hot pants (or whatever you call what dudes wore in the 18th century).
Look for them. Really. Although this game can be socially awkward - all of my friends are now used to saying “Very nice, yes, I see the hidden penis, too. Sure, it’s there.”
5. DIY Tour Guide
Appoint one group member the official guide for a room, and award points based on authoritativeness or ridiculousness. Try to explain an artist’s choice of medium/ subject matter/ color by reference to his or her troubled relations with estranged family/ confused sexual orientation/ reaction to political and social turmoil of the period.
Bonus: the Louvre is decorated with many allegorical paintings on the ceilings – it’s always way, way more fun to make up what these should be symbolizing than read about what they actually do.