Museum Travels: Tips, Stories, Explorations

How do you feel about museums?

art museum woman looks at paintings

Perhaps you’re thinking: in and out, hit the highlights, that’s me and museums. You might be thinking, I could spend hours in a museum, a whole day, maybe several days… Or: what sort of museum is it, anyway? It all depends…
On our travels my colleagues and I have visited many museums, indeed, many different sorts of museums. As part of an occasional series I am writing guiding you to insights from our more than decade long archive of stories at Perceptive Travel, here are tips on ways to enjoy your next visit, and a few ideas on where to go and what you might enjoy.
Take the time to visit, even if you think you don’t have the time
Sheila took the risk to visit the impressive—and big –Museum of Fine Arts in Boston when she knew she had just an hour to spend. She came back with tips on how to have a great experience at a large museum when your time is limited.

John Singer Sargent mural studies MFA Boston (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

John Singer Sargent mural studies MFA Boston (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Planning for a longer visit, in advance or on the fly
I offered tips on how to visit a big museum with a bit more time to explore.  Maybe it’s your dream destination, or maybe you’ve dodged in out of the rain when other plans fell through. Either way, there are ideas you might not have considered. Combine my tips and Sheila’s, mix and match to suit your circumstances, and you’re bound to have a good visit.

gold boat national museum of ireland archaeology by kerry dexter

When you go
Prepare to be moved Skye was when he went to the Warsaw Uprising Museum in Poland. Sheila felt the people of the US civil rights days and their struggles come alive  at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Mike experienced the touch of civil rights history in at the 16th Street Church in Birmingham.

Prepare to be entertained
 Some – many—museums are meant to be entertaining while they educate or provoke thought. Skye found this out in Ukraine, and Sheila visited a museum devoted to toys. Alison visited a serious museum where the subject of the collections is … shoes.
Appreciate the unexpected Sheila explored the life of Woody Guthrie in Oklahoma, and found a connect to present day politics. Mike went to the world’s largest motorcycle museum. Tim found one of the best parts of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque was the chance to try Native American food in their café.

Not all museums are indoors, or strictly speaking, museums, either Skye has explored windmills. Sheila visited the missions in San Antonio. Brian went to to Kamakura, Japan’s Great Buddha statue. I walked with you through a corridor in the transport area beneath the Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta to show you a bit of that city’s history.

atlanta airport native american baskets by Kerry Dexter
Learn from the past  Many museums have some connection to history, even if that’s not the main focus of their collections. Museums also have connection to community: On a visit to the US National Postal Museum in Washington DC, I was reminded of ways we have connected across time and distance. At the National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology, the Ardagh Chalice and its story reminded me of the persistence of faith and the nature of creativity.
Somehow, the Lewis Chessmen at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

lewis chessmen scotland

and Sophie Cave’s contemporary piece at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow

kelvingrove art faces by Sphie Cave photo by Kerry Dexter

both call to mind and invite reflection on the power of connection and community.

We have explored many other museums, including one featuring stained glass and another with a stuffed alligator, one about mountaineering, visual arts of all sorts, history of many places…and there are more journeys yet to come as we explore ways museums tell stories of their communities.
Museums: places to ask and answer questions, to invite reflection and celebrate community. What are your favorite museums? Which ones do you hope to visit?

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