I really see visiting exhibitions as not only educational but a real TREAT YOUR SELF moment but let’s be serious for a few seconds – not everyone has £20 to spend on a ticket only to get a crowded experience which you do not really enjoy.
Time a visit to your show of choice wrong and it is not only a complete disappointment but in my opinion, a waste of your time and money!
You deserve so much more from your viewing experience!
To help - I’ve put together my tried and tested tips to help you get the most out of your blockbuster exhibition experience. Although feel free to apply this to museum visits in general.
1. PLAN AHEAD
It may seem silly and a slightly obvious tip but it is the tried and tested method – decide on when you would like to go and book your tickets. That way you commit to visiting the show and are GUARANTEED entry. There is nothing worse than thinking for a whole summer you will visit a show only to finally decide now is the time, with three days to go and all the tickets have sold out – or worse – make your way to a museum or gallery only to be told in person it’s sold out. Take it if from someone who have lived both of those scenarios.
Neither is nice and then you just get annoyed at yourself for not acting sooner.
It’s better to regret going than regret not going at all.
2. VISIT THE SHOW FIRST THING IN THE MORNING!
This is a GAME CHANGER!
Honestly, it might seem like the worse thing in the world getting up and out for 8am on a weekend morning BUT if you are thinking that – how many others are too? Bite the bullet and I promise you – not only will you beat the crowds, but by the time it hits 11am, you have not only taught yourself a thing or two BUT you can smugly head to the café for a much-deserved coffee while others are just kicking off their day.
And coffee always tastes better after a successful morning, does it not?
3. VISIT IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS OF THE SHOW’S RUN.
DO NOT VISIT A SHOW IN ITS OPENING FEW WEEKS.
DO NOT VISIT A SHOW IN ITS OPENING FEW WEEKS.
It’s full of keen bean museum goers that need to see that latest exhibition the SECOND it opens and NO ONE can be bothered paying up to £20 for a ticket to anything only to spend your entire time at the show fighting your way through mass crowds just to catch a glimpse of a work.
I’ve found the last few weeks of an exhibition are usually the best time to see a show as you are just past the opening rush and just before the ‘panic’ visitors who can’t believe the show only has two weeks left. (No judging – we have all been there ;) )
Let the keen beans have their moment – and you will enjoy yours much more.
4. VISIT ON A WEEK DAY
Again, another great way to beat the weekend rush and there is nothing nicer than starting your day learning something in a space which is surrounded by beautiful and inspiring artworks!
I understand this is not possible for everyone – the typical 9-5, BUT perhaps you could speak to your line manager and ask to start your working day a little later and work the hours back? Or not take a lunch break that day and ask to start a little later?!
You could even pitch it as self-development time or if you work in a creative industry, say you feel seeing the exhibition would be a good opportunity to broaden your knowledge/inspirational avenues.
Why not try pitching a show as an ideal team building exercise and get more than one person involved – your work might even pay for the ticket all or in part?
You never know - and if you don’t ask – you don’t get!
5. HOLD OFF BUYING AT THE GIFT SHOP
Perhaps it is because I am Scottish and I love a bargain but – if you loved an exhibition and would really like the catalogue, why not wait a few weeks till after the exhibition has finished to buy the catalogue online? I’ve found myself saving up to 70% on the original retail price of a catalogue I really wanted, but just did not have an additional £40 to spend at the end of a show.
Plus – buying online means you don’t have to carry a heavy catalogue around with you.
HOWEVER – this ties in with my previous tip about visiting in the final few weeks of an exhibition, institutions have been known to take up to 50% off exhibition related items in their shop to shift excess stock before a show ends – you might time it just right and walk off into the sunset with a head full of new knowledge and a half price exhibition catalogue under your arm!
Do you have any top tips for getting the most out of blockbuster exhibitions?
Let me know in the comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Jo McLaughlin July 2020