24 April 2015

Three tips for exploring museums and art galleries.

I went to some amazing museums and galleries in Milan and Paris, and a few in the UK too. The history they hold is breath-taking. I loved learning about how people lived, and seeing iconic artwork. It's also interesting seeing how others take it all in - lingering looking, or quick photo snaps to look at later. How lucky was I to absorb such culture and history!

I saw The Duomo in Milan – dating back to the 1300s. How the heck did they build such an enormous, detailed building with the technology at the time?!

Carly Findlay outside of the Duomo, Milan

The Duomo, Milan
I loved that there was a small fee for taking photos - an honesty fee. I think it was two euro - and the staff wanted visitors to take photos and share them.
Inside the Duomo, Milan
 As I took this photo, about 50 others stood before the window taking the same photo.
Stained glass windows inside the Duomo, Milan

the alter inside the Duomo, Milan

the alter inside the duomo, milan

I went to the National Museum of Science and Technology: Leonardo Da Vinci in Milan – filled with planes, ships and cartography. I was in awe of how innovative inventors and designers were centuries ago and also how technology has progressed.  There were some great displays of modern technology that was very hands-on for kids.

Sign at entry to Museum of Science and Technology, Milan

Entrance to Museum of Science and Technology, Milan

Cartography, Museum of Science and Technology, Milan

Steam locomotive, Museum of Science and Technology, Milan

War plane - Museum of Science and Technology, Milan

The ballroom inside a ship. Museum of Science and Technology, Milan

Ship. Museum of Science and Technology, Milan

Steam locomotive wheel, Museum of Science and Technology, Milan

I also toured The Louvre (huge!), Musee de l’Orangerie (beautiful paintings by Monet), and the Fragonard Perfume Museum in Paris. I think I saw the museums of music and ballet too, but only went to the ballet gift shop. 

The Louvre, Paris

The glass at The Louvre, Paris

Looking out under the glass at the Louvre, Paris.

Selfie with Mona Lisa.
Carly Findlay in front of the Mona Lisa, the Louvre
 It was Tuesday afternoon at the Louvre and it was so busy!
Crowds at the Louvre, Paris

 Surprisingly, the perform museum didn't smell as amazing as I imagined.
Fragonard Museum, Paris

No photos allowed inside Orangerie - a pity because it was filled with Monet. Amazing.
Orangerie museum sign, Paris

And on my most recent trip to the UK, I visited Inveraray Castle in Scotland, the outside of the Tower of London, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Cardiff Museum in Wales. There may well have been others but I was feeling pretty unwell in London and Cardiff.

I was SO amazed at the beauty of this castle. It's huge and so detailed. I wanted to go inside. I think Downton Abbey is filmed there.

Inverary castle, Scotland

Jelly moulds in the kitchen of Inverary castle, Scotland

 A friend and I sat outside the Tower of London. In hindsight I should have gone inside!
The Tower of London
No photos allowed inside the Victoria and Albert Museum. Maggie and I asked a stranger to take this one outside.
Carly Findlay and Maggie Alderson outside the Victoria and Albert Museum London

The European museums and galleries were definitely more populated than the ones I visited in the USA. 

Here's what I learnt:

Book ahead online to avoid queues

I queued for almost an hour in Milan and Paris – one time I queued longer than I spent looking at the art! There were often two queues – one for prepared people who booked ahead, and one for people who just turned up. The first queue moved very fast and I was envious! I will book ahead every time now. 

I also recommend that you take water and a hat – it can be really hot waiting in a queue, no matter how long you have to wait! I waited for ages in Milan and think I got sunburnt!

Also, if you don't book online, at least check the price before you go. I didn't end up going inside the Tower of London due to the price! (I'd rather see a show on West End!)

You can’t see everything at once.
I was amazed with how big the museums and galleries were! The Louvre was huge! (It’s over 60,600. And they are very busy and crowded – many are top tourist destinations. And so it was impossible to see everything in a limited time. 

When you book your ticket online, check out how big the museum or gallery is, look at the exhibitions and plan what you want to see before you go. Collect a map at the entry (or print one before you go) and mark your route. And if you don’t see everything you want to see on your first visit, it’s a great reason to return! (And museum and gallery exhibitions change – so you might be lucky and see something you missed out at a later date in your hometown!)

Save your money for the gift shops.

I measure the quality and my enjoyment of a museum or gallery on the gift shop! If it’s stocked with amazing art and craft, I am happy! You can often get replica prints in frames or on cards, magnets or scarves from gift shops. And they stock an amazing range of jewellery – which never weighs much in your suitcase on the trip home. 

(I bought a cute brooch from the V&A giftshop – online though. It's a design by Cilea
Balloon brooch by Cilea

I thought I’d run out of money close to the end of my trip. The postage was a killer, but I love this brooch so much. 

I bought a cute pressed flower necklace at the castle in Scotland, and some gifts in the museum in Cardiff. 

When I was in Chicago, I found a gorgeous mosaic plate that was a bargain – though it was too big and fragile to carry around the world with me (or post home) so I do hope it found an appreciative owner.

Have you got any advice?
Bought anything special from a museum or gallery store?


  1. Oh yes I love a good museum gift shop too! From MoMA in NYC I bought the cutest black umbrella with a white silhouette of the New York Skyline on it... when it rains the white skyline turns multi coloured!! So ace :-)

  2. Oh I so want to visit the Louvre, I was in Paris on a travel tour and it was shut on the day we were there.. It's amazing how big everything is and how long you need to line up to see things. I'm in awe of how they built things so long ago with limited technology too. Zoe xx

  3. Oh Carly I'm so envious I'm lost for words!! Thanks for sharing. Armchair travel is better than no travel at all x


Thank you for reading my blog. I love receiving comments :)
I really appreciate the time you've taken to write to me, and to share something about yourself.


Related Posts with Thumbnails