How to visit a museum without getting bored

We've all been there.

Someone in the group wants to visit a $24 museum and you have zero interest in looking at model cars and wartime airplanes for what feels like an infinite amount of time.

I get it. You have to be very interested in something so stare at an ancient object in a glass box.

To avoid experiencing the feeling of time standing still, here's a round up of the not-so-obvious museum musts:

  1. Must NOT do

There are too many "must do's" when it comes to travelling. "You're going to Florence, you must visit the Uffizi. You're going to Paris? Before you even get off the plane you should visit the Eiffel Tower."

Weeeelll not necessarily. The whole "must-see" aspect of travelling makes experiencing a new city quite boring. Yes, you should definitely go visit the building millions have seen and Instagrammed before you. Doing all the city's "musts," the spontaneity instantly vanishes and your trip is pretty much cut out for you before you've even gotten there. And worst of all, what if you hate it? Well then you've pleased the masses but are pretty bored yourself.

That's where I come in 🙂 Let me be the first to tell you, you don't have to visit those places. At the risk of sounding like a kindergarden teacher, you don't have to do what other's tell you to do. Of course it's great to take travel tips and advice from experienced travelers and especially locals, but taking others advice too far is pretty boring.

2. Only go to museums / exhibits you're genuinely interested in

Now before I get slammed for stating the obvious, hear me out: How often do you follow the masses? I sure do. Again with the whole "must see" aspect of travelling, this past weekend I visited three, yes THREE, museums. And I hate museums.

(But taking this Eskimo-family photo with Asian tourists was pretty tight. )

My father is pretty into boats, ships and the Vikings, so naturally, if I visit Oslo, a trip to the Viking museum was a must. Anything for you, Papa.

I too, wanted to learn more about the history of Lars's country so a visit here wasn't the most painful excursion.

My own personal tourguide made things more interesting, but definitely worth visiting if you don't have your own private guided tour 😉

But if my boyfriend wasn't Norwegian, and my father didn't love ships, I probably wouldn't be itching and yearning to go here. Yes it's a great aspect of Norwegian history, but if it doesn't tickle your fancy, you don't need to spend an hour getting there and 10€ to look at a boat.

3. Museums induce hunger

I don't know what it is about these places, but I am always a hungry beast when going to a museum. Do they spray something into the air, enticing us to the over-priced cafe? Maybe I'm just bored, and I'm making an excuse to leave (hunger is always a valid one) but if I don't have at least six sandwiches packed, I will get hangry.

So tip #3 is to pack a snack. The cafes and restaurants in museums are hella expensive, so you'll be happy you brought your own excursion food 😉

4. Visit during low tide

The absolute worst part about museums are the crowds. To avoid getting thronged by the masses, go early. Most people aren't up for art at 9:00, so make sure to arrive early!

5. Don't over-museum yourself

Finally, don't over-do it. I learned this the hard way in Oslo.

The third and final museum we visited was the Fram museum.

Featuring history of the explorations of Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup and Roald Amundsen, the Fram museum is not shy on education about these sailors!

Again suitable for all ages, there was plenty to explore in the vast, multi-level museum.

This museum may have been at slight disadvantage being placed at the end of our museum trek for the day, because we were both quite exhausted perusing the hallways.

I think my museum limit may be two in a day, because I don't think I can absorb any information after being drenched in three museums worth of history and culture.

Side note, how cool is this medicine cabinet?!

To avoid culture-drench, I'd say space out your museum visits, if possible. Lars and I were in Oslo for less than 72 hours, so naturally we had to fill in as much activity for a short amount of time as possible, which meant exceeding our cultural limits.

The Fram museum is a phenomenal place, but I think I would have enjoyed it much more if it was placed in between other activities that didn't include guided tours and information overloads.

While museums are definite must-sees (fill yourself with pure regret if you go to Florence and don't visit Academia!), I don't think they're the end-all to getting the most out of your vacations. If you enjoy being outdoors, don't force yourself you stand in line for 2 hours to see a sculpture that doesn't make you feel fulfilled. Vacations are your time, so do what makes your heart flutter.

Go to museums you're truly interested in, arrive early, and don't over-do it. With these tips in mind, for my next trip, I'll be sure to maximize my museum going experience, get the most out of what they have to offer, and I hope you can too!

Happy travels from Lars and his bear friend 🙂

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