Get out of the House

Get out of the House: Museum Day & Ticket Giveaway

by Grace Bonney

Last week’s first post for my new Get out of the House column was dedicated to a rather ambitious and adventurous topic: Winter Camping. While I personally love the stillness and peace (and excuse to eat large amounts of S’mores) that come with gearing up and enjoying cold-weather hiking, I know it’s not for everyone. So this week I thought I’d tackle something a little simpler and warmer: Museum Days!

Almost anywhere you live, there’s a gallery or museum near you. So what if it’s not the Met? (BTW, this history of their badges is very cool.) Some of the best museums are the ones that cater to local eccentricities, personal collections and celebrations of the weird and wonderful. So today I thought I’d focus on ideas for getting out of the house, staying warm and being inspired by a trip to your local museum. I’ll share links for finding great (and unexpected) museums near you, tips for what to do and what to bring (the full shopping list is after the jump!) and how to expand your trip into a full museum day with friends or a solo trip. Happy museum-going! xo, grace

*In the spirit of really committing to getting out of the house, I’d love to buy museum tickets for you and a friend! Just leave a comment in the comment section below about what museum you’d like to visit in your town and why. I’ll pick my favorite comment next Wednesday and pay for your tickets to the museum!

The full post continues after the jump . . .


As much as I love design, I’m not actually a huge fan of most big museums. They tend to feel impersonal and cold, so I’m always trying to find great small museums to visit. Whether you’re looking for something large and all-encompassing or just want to find something quirky and cool in your area, here are some great places to start.

My Top 10 Favorite Museums:


Where to Find Museums Near You:


Image via Metropolitan Museum of Art


Aside from the obvious viewing of interesting/beautiful/obscure/strange objects and art, a museum day, for me anyway, is about tying in related activities that create one big fun package. Here’s an example:

Artist Afternoon:

  • Pick a museum and theme (e.g., the Met, Impressionists).
  • Plan a meal option based on that choice. (For the Impressionists, how about a French bistro brunch?)
  • Bring activities to match. (For the Impressionists, you could bring portable watercolor kits and a notepad to use inside the museum.)
  • Based on your findings at the museum, plan an extra activity. (Inspired by Monet’s Water Lilies, you could check out a local garden or plant nursery to see what inspired those paintings.)
  • Document your day with photos and put them in a scrapbook, using digital frame borders so it feels like a tiny museum.


Two tips our whole team agrees on: Choose one exhibition to focus on at bigger museums. When a museum is SO big, it’s easy to glaze over and get overwhelmed by all the art. So pick one area (e.g., Egyptian art) and really take your time and focus on it. Next, try to go on a weekday morning if you can. The traffic is slower, and you have a better chance of getting time and space to stop, photograph and draw if you want to.

A student tip from Max: If you go to the museum’s information desk and bring your student ID, you can often get a discount or a free ticket, even if it isn’t advertised. It never hurts to ask!

Image via Terrier & Lobster


I love to bring a few things with me to museums because I get bored easily. Really easily. You’ll of course want to check your specific museum’s list of do’s and don’ts for their policies on everything, but in general, I like to bring:

  • A lightweight bag, shoes and a sweater: Even the lightest bags and accessories feel like they weigh a ton after walking around all day. Lighten the load, and your feet (and shoulders) will thank you later in the day.
  • Drawing tools and paper: I love being able to sit down and right notes or sketch out pictures and ideas inspired by what I’m seeing.
  • Portable watercolors: I’m not much of an artist, but I love to put down simple color palettes that are inspired by the paintings I see. Sometimes cameras don’t get the color balance right, and it’s nice to jot down something on your own.
  • Camera: Not all museums allow photography, so please follow any rules listed at the museum.
  • Museum apps: These days, many museums have cool free apps that you can download on your phone to use while you walk around. Check your local museum to see what they offer.
  • A small treat budget: I’ll allocate a small amount ($20) to spend on a memento to bring home. I cheesily love little mementos from museums, even if it’s something fun like Astronaut Ice Cream.


Image above: 1. Camera Strap, $85 | 2. Dupatta Nara Scarf, $188 | 3. Watercolor Postcards with Kit, $18 | 4. Travel Watercolor Set, $22 | 5. Watercolor Postcards, $3.99 | 6. Moleskine Sketchbook, $11.17 | 7 . Watercolor Brush Set, $14.99 | 8. General’s Charcoal Pencils (72-pack), $60.25 | 9. Bookhou Tote, $88 | 10. Oil Pastels, $6.95


Every museum has different policies when it comes to photography, touching, proximity to artwork, etc., so please be sure to check those guidelines before you arrive.

Here are some other good karma suggestions to keep in mind that will help everyone at the museum enjoy their time:

  • Take your time and move on. Everyone wants a chance to see a particular painting, so try not to stand in front of something too long before giving someone else a chance to look. You can always set up away from the artwork at a different angle if you want to draw it, or circle back around again for another look.
  • Keep voices and headphones at a reasonable level. In general, it seems like most people want to have a peaceful experience in museums. So yelling, loud laughing and blasting music or audio tours on headphones aren’t very helpful.
  • Keep an eye on small children. I think all children should have the chance to enjoy museums, but it’s a big help if parents can hold their hands or keep a close eye on them. I’ll never forget getting bumped into a sculpture at the MET by a little kid who was running around like crazy. His parents just shrugged it off, and I got a stern word from the museum guard. (A lot of museums have amazing museum educators that specialize in showing children artwork. Take advantage of those programs if they’re in your area; they’re fantastic.)
  • Take cellphone calls outside. Enough said.
  • If you’re moving in a large group, try to break up into small subgroups so you’re not blocking doorways and other people’s viewing experience.

Suggested For You


  • How wonderful! We have a bunch of great museums here in the Twin Cities- I’m so thankful for that, because winter lasts forever!
    I love the reference to astronaut ice cream, as a child I remember trying some at a museum- such great memories.
    If I were to visit a museum here in St. Paul, I would have to choose the Science Museum of Minnesota. It’s fabulous and they always have something great for the kids, which my young son would love. A matter of fact last time we attempted to visit the Science Museum there was s huge sleep over going on… Really should have checked up on special events before venturing over!

  • I’d love to spend a day at the Science Museum of Minnesota with my boyfriend. It’s probably the most jam-packed museum in the city, which isn’t always the best thing, but it makes for hours of entertainment. We both very much enjoy wandering the interior maze of curated collections and it’s a great idea to beat the winter blues. I’m so glad I read your post this morning.

  • So happy you are encouraging folks to get out to museums! As someone who has worked in museums my entire adult life, this is really exciting to me. I’ve been meaning to get up to the Milwaukee Art Museum again. I love its moveable wings, but I’ve never seen them activated in person.

    Although, I would like to point out that watercolors or oil pastels in a museum are not going to fly. Many museums have rules that people can only sketch in galleries by requesting permission, and I’ve never heard of one that allowed anything other than sketching with pencils. It’s just too big of a risk for a museum to take to allow paint into into its galleries, even if you have the best of intentions.

    • hi guys

      re: paint in museums, i mentioned that people should check the rules for a reason- i know not every place allows that ;)

      a lot of museums allow painting on separate days and times if you ask for information. it just depends on the place and time :)


  • My sister is coming to visit next week from Seattle and the Tenement Museum was on my list of places to possibly take her. I also love The Frick Collection in NYC…have you been?

  • I’m planning on taking my nieces and nephew to the Museum of Natural History when they visit next month–they are very excited to see dinosaurs on their first visit to NYC!

  • I love that picture of the wagner! I’ve lived in philadelphia for over eight years and it has been on my list for awhile, so I pick the wagner (although the new barnes is a close second). minerals! cherry wood! a saber-toothed tiger! a museum is just the kind of thing that might get me out of my february funk.

  • I would love to take my husband to Atlanta’s High Museum of Art to see the new Frida + Diego exhibit! He keeps begging me to go since he loves both of their art so much. With over 120 pieces – it’s sure to be incredible!

  • It’s cool of you to offer to buy tickets for a winning comment, but my favorite museum is actually free. :) Maybe many others are as well, which is another reason to check one out TODAY. The Birmingham Museum of Art has a beautiful collection. My favorite piece is an American masterpiece by Alfred Bierstadt (Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California), but the most rewarding part of any visit is that I can walk through Asia, Africa, and Europe all in one day. Talk about getting out of the house!!

  • As a museum professional I am so happy to see this post today! Museums are a great place to visit on your own or in a group.

    FYI: not all museums will allow you to use paint or pens in the gallery, however many have educational work rooms where you can use those materials. Your safest bet for sketching in the galleries would be pencils and paper.

  • I’d love to go to the Frist in Nashville. They had an exhibit on German Expressionism that I’m so sad I missed, and now they have an exhibit on Rembrandt and the Golden Age I’m determined not to miss!

  • In June my father and I are headed to Sweden. I want to visit Skansen and would love tickets. I’ll document our experience through photos and sketchs and share with Design Sponge readers. Thanks!

  • Actually look carefully at the admission pricing at the museums. Many, including the Met in NYC, are suggested donations. You can walk into the Met for free. Personally I recommend giving based on your frequency of visits. If it’s very occasional, give as much as you can, if you are there weekly you can feel better about giving a couple of dollars.

  • I don’t know if this will count, but my family is planning a trip to NY in March and we have two kids under 3. We would love to take them to a museum in the city and are getting excited about the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and the New York City Fire Museum. Our son is wild about fire engines and we plan to stop by while we are in town for the weekend.

  • My kids and I LOVE the dinosaurs at the Science Museum of Minnesota. They could spend hours looking at the fossils, reading the dinosaur books and climbing into and out of the brachiosaur stomach model. And, honestly, their mommy never grew out of her love for dinosaurs, either. :-)

  • I just moved to Georgia and I’m dying to visit the High Museum in Atlanta! Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera are currently the featured exhibit. Frida is such an inspirational, strong female artist I am dying to see some of her work up close!

  • My fiancé, son and I will be going to The Houston Museum of Natural Science next weekend. My son wanted to go for his birthday and visit the paleontology exhibit. I love that he is so excited about learning.

  • I love the Isabella Stuart Garden Museum in Boston. Her collections never fail to take me to a different time and place and I love getting lost there. Its a must do on a dreary winter day.

  • I cannot describe how much I love museums! In every bio we write about our design studio, we list ourselves as museum-junkies! Museums are travelling without leaving town. It’s a moment to pause, gain exposure, and perspective, all within a short bus ride. I’d LOVE a museum trip right now, especially for my husband. We are both product designers- and he is currently working in a design job that is less than creatively fulfilling. He could really use a little inspirational pick-me up, and a museum trip would SURELY be the ticket!

  • I would love to take my husband to the Musical Instrument Museum here in Phoenix, AZ. My husband is a musician, so I know he would be so fascinated, and would swoon over their extensive vintage guitar collection! Music has always been a hugely important part of our relationship; we love to share new and favorite music with each other, go to lots of concerts together, etc. This would be a fun new musical experience for us to share!
    Tony Bennett even claimed this was his favorite museum in the world! I have to check it out :)

  • Skidding to a halt to stand transfixed by a work of art is a treasured moment!
    Send me into the San Francisco Modern Art Museum and I will find that moment,pencil in hand. To go with a friend even better,we can bounce off each others reactions and start an illuminating or laughter producing dialogue.

  • Great post! Living in Atlanta, I love the High (The Diego and Frida show is amazing!), but my favorite museums are in DC and Toronto. You can’t beat all of the free museums on the Mall (National Gallery and the Hirshhorn, especially), but my favorite is the Phillips Collection. It’s a beautiful space!
    Growing up in Buffalo, we would go to the Ontario Science Centre every year. Haven’t been in a long time, but I have such fond memories of that place–it was the first museum I went to with interactive exhibits!

  • I’d love to go to the AVAM in Baltimore. My husband and I went once very early on in our marriage, and I have such fond memories of the conversation and creativity that the works there stimulated.

  • I always take my watercolors along. Even if the main galleries don’t allow for watercolor ( my colored pencils are a backup) , there are courtyards and open spaces that allow it. Museums are great fun to sketch at. And relatively easy: your subjects don’t ( usually) walk away!

  • this is the best giveaway idea! i want to go to mass moca (the massachusetts museum of contemporary art). i find contemporary art both challenging + awesome, and i’ve never been to the moca before!

  • I would love to go to the Atlanta History Center to see the Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello exhibit. TJ is a fascinating man, full of contradictions. It is interesting to me the man how wrote “all men are created equal” kept slaves until he died.

  • I would love to visit the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science here in Dallas. I keep talking myself out of visiting because of the cost and hassle, but I have heard wonderful things! I would love to go. Thanks!

  • I would LOVE to visit the Art Institute of Chicago right now. A new Picasso + Chicago exhibit was recently installed, and it’s all I keep talking about! Pretty, pretty please? :)

  • I love Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. I would LOVE to take my husband – I grew up going there, but he is from England and has never been. It’s such a fun place with interactive exhibits, and I have so many childhood memories associated with the place that I would love to share with him. Plus, he used to be a science teacher, so it’s actually one of the few museums he would go to willingly. He’s now pursuing a master’s degree full time and I’m working full time to pay the tuition and life bills, so museum tickets are considered a luxury to us, and something we can’t splurge on.

  • I have two very distinct loves: science and art. (Ok fine, three loves: dark chocolate!) I find perfect peace when these two otherwise opposite subjects come together (and if I can be eating chocolate, then we’re talking bliss). Give me a day at the Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, Montana) to explore and sketch dinosaur fossils, and don’t forget the chocolate! :)

  • WONDERFUL suggestions on tips for going to a museum. Can you have those “rules” posted at all museums? People just don’t know when they’re being rude.

  • This is such an awesome post! I was lucky enough to have a mother who spent hours coming up with ideas to fill my siblings & my days (before we were in school) with tons of fun activities, plenty of crafts, beach days, and trips to the museums. I grew up in Chicago so the Field Museum & Science & Industry Museums are old friends.

    Recently I moved with my boyfriend to Denver, we’ve gotten to explore the city a little bit, but we’re always so busy with work/school and tied up with money that we haven’t had a chance to visit any of the major museums yet. That being said I would love to go visit the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. They have some awesome permanent and visiting exhibits, from the websites description (mammoths! egyptian mummies! Gem carvings of Russian fok!) as well as imax shows and even a planetarium that’s currently showing a feature on super-volcanoes. Considering how close we are to Yellowstone I’m sure it’d be really beneficial to find out if we even have a chance of surviving if one erupted. All that being said we’d love to get a chance to go!


  • I’m a gallery assistant at a well-known museum and I’d like to add “manners” to the list of things to bring! Please don’t respond negatively when a museum guard asks you to follow the rules! We love the art just as much as our guests do and want to keep it unharmed! :)

  • What a wonderful post! Wow – I need to go to the Neon Museum and Graveyard, so cool!

    My husband I are hoping to go and see the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA in Los Angeles soon. Our favorite movie is The Shining and we can’t wait to see some of the props, costumes, posters, and photographs!

  • I’ve always been kind of a museum junkie, and I’ve lived in the Washington, DC area my whole life, so I admittedly–and thankfully–have been to most museums (and botanical gardens and historic sites) around here, a lot of them more than once. I’ve always loved art and history and am capable of losing hours of time in an art gallery or other museum and still feel like I didn’t have enough time.

    Hands down, though, there is one place I would love to be able to visit, and that’s the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. I know it doesn’t seeem like the same kind of museum and gallery that the rest of these are, but I promise that it really kind of is.

    I’m never going to be the kind of baseball fan you think of when you watch ESPN. (For one thing, I will never be the kind of person who enjoys watching ESPN.) But at some point in college, between the literature classes and the art classes, I fell in love with the game. I fell in love with the history and the mythology and the stories. I fell in love with the architecture and art, the poetry and the drama and the sweet close-mown green grass. There was a poem once that described a night game as “the dark ballet,” and I get that now. I think my best friend, who studied history and Jane Austen and Victorian novels and who fell in love at the same time I did, once decided with me that baseball could be described as “magicial realism in uniform.”

    And somehow between my art and my writing and all the things I love that have nothing to do with knowing that Candie Cumming invented the curveball (except he maybe didn’t), I still haven’t managed to shake how much I love the history of baseball. Because more than the present game, it’s the history I’m in love with. I’m in love with Satchel Paige and Honus Wagner and Luke Appling and Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell. I’m in love with Christy Mathewson, the Christian Gentleman, and Walter Johnson, the Big Train. That was my grandfather’s name too, by pure coincidence, and about a month ago, I inherited his baseball glove from the Army, beaten and worn and at least sixty years old and one of the most beautiful things I own now.

    Long story short: I have devoured books and books on the stories that are held in the Baseball Hall of Fame and my museum-junkie, beautiful-object-loving self would love to be able to go see those things in person, taking my best friend along with. And I know it’s a bit of a drive from where I am, but this post comes right as I get a new car and I can’t imagine a better way to use it.

    (It also doesn’t hurt that this post comes right on the brink of spring, and as A. Bartlett Giamatti wrote better than I can: “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”)

  • I have lived in the Phila. area most of my life and have never heard of the Wagner but now I can’t wait to go! (and my daughter just spent the last 4 years living at Temple U!)
    I’ve been looking for a place to draw birds and this sounds perfect!

  • I love living in Washington, DC, where so many of our wonderful museums are free! Some of them charge admission, though, like the Textile Museum–I’d love to go there with a friend. :)

  • Grace, I LOVE this post! I seriously need to up my museum going! I’ve been dying to cross to the west coast and go to the Contemporary Craft! Ugh…if only there was more time (and money) in the days…

    Also, I don’t mean to sound sales-y, but I’d love to help you with a similar post about Aquariums if you’re interested! I work for National Aquarium and I’d love to have you visit and connect you with other aquariums around the country :)

    Again, not to be too sales-y haha
    Always love your posts :) xoxo

  • I live about 50 miles away from the Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Museum of Art, but I have never been there. I am rather ashamed to admit it. It is a case of being a little too far for an impromptu visit, and a little too close to be a planned destination. I really would like to go though, and one of these days I will make it happen.

  • i love museums! the smell, the light, the architecture, the carefully curated collections – I find I’m always inspired by something new, even if it’s a museum I’ve been to many times before. I’d love to visit our local museum, the Grand Rapids Public Museum – they currently have an amazing Titanic exhibit that looks fascinating. Plus there’s a beautiful carousel and some amazing permanent exhibits that I never tire of experiencing. This is a great post!

  • i want to go to the museum of vancouver! http://www.museumofvancouver.ca/ it is my favourite place in vancouver (well, tied with the aquarium). they always have really interesting exhibits, including the current one “sex talk in the city”, which i’ve been dying to check out!

  • I’ve lived in NY for 8 years now, but have never made it to the Natural History Museum (been to all the other big ones, including Brooklyn & Queens Museums and a few smaller ones that I don’t remember the names of). It’s on my list and I’d LOVE to go – your post is inspiring, it’s the perfect time of year to have a museum date :)

  • In England the V&A museum is great, as is The Science Museum!

    @Kate and Grace I’d love to read an article like this on aquariums! :) x

  • If you are interested in sketching at museums (using whatever medium they allow), many museums, especially in Europe & Australia provide small portable stools for you to sit on while you sketch.

  • I am planning on going to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta with my husband. We will drive in from Jacksonvile, Fl. and spend the day with Frida and Diego. If you saw my office, you would understand why this trip is important to me. My students always ask me who “he” is, and I have a chance to tell them about Frida’s passion for life despite her pain. Since I teach Angela Carter’s works, her essay of Frida is a good place to start. There is also the the picture of Amy Winehouse as Frida and the many fashion layouts inspired by Frida. I wish I could take a student or two with me.

  • As a museum employee at two art museums, it wonderful to see encouragement to visit you local museum. However its bit misleading when mentioning mediums other than pencil which is only allowed in art museums. You won’t be able to use any watercolors in an art museum but feel to sketch with pencil.

    • A.M.

      I’m afraid that’s not true. As I mentioned before there are many museums across the country that allow watercolors. You may need to ask for times/galleries that allow it (many art museums have days of the week when artists are allowed to come before or after hours to draw), but it’s definitely not against the rules everywhere.


  • I’d love to see the special Mark Rothko exhibit at the art museum here in Columbus, OH. The museum teamed up with our theatre company, which is putting on the play “Red” about Rothko’s life. I’m going to the play tomorrow night, so the art exhibit would be the perfect follow up!

  • Oh this is going to sound so generic but I’d really love to visit the MoMA in NYC. I’ve only gone for events, at night when the museum is half closed and would really love to spend an entire day there and really soak it all in!

  • I live in Portland and go to the Portland Art Museum regularly. So, because of Grace’s suggestion, I’d love to give the Museum of Contemporary Craft a try!

  • As a retiree in Manhattan, I have had the privelege of going to museums and galleries all over the city and surrounding areas. And I’m enclosing a link to the Smithsonian National Museum Day, which happens every spring. Many museums all over the country participate for free entry. You only need to sign up and print out the forms. The 2013 hasn’t been set up yet, but here is the link ===> http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/ticket/

    Happy museum going, wherever you are! Oh, and I would love two tickets for the Tretyakov Museum in Russia…lol!

  • I am going to second the other Twin Cities commenters on the Science Museum of Minnesota, it is definitely a great museum and one of the more expensive ones to visit. I always learn something new at the Science Museum!

  • This is such a fun thread, I love to see where everyone’s from. SO many entries for the Minnesota Museum of Science! That sounds really cool.

    I second the “be nice to Gallery Attendants” comment left by GA. Some people’s jobs are more difficult than you think.

    One more thing – if anyone is in Pittsburgh, go to the Mattress Factory Museum in the North Side, it’s the only installation museum in the country and it’s AWESOME

  • I’ve actually been meaning to get to the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. There is a Georges Roualt exhibition as well as some prints about constellations and an installation of art based on natural objects!

  • If I could visit a museum it would definitely be the Indianapolis Children’s Museum with my boyfriend. I have not gotten to go yet even though I go to school an hour away, and as I will be starting my masters in museum studies next year I want to go to every museum that I can! It’s the world’s largest children’s museum with enormous dinosaurs and a whole exhibit about underwater archaeology, it would be an amazing place to visit.

  • This is a great article (bonus for the giveaway!). There are so many museums across the country on my list… but I’d have to say #1 is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Between the exhibits, the rooftop and the partnership it has with the Cloisters it has been on my list of spots to visit for the 6 years I’ve lived in NYC and I just haven’t gotten there yet.

  • I have always wanted to go to Wright’s -Fallingwater down in PA, but since I reside in NYC, it is a very far excursion! However, a close second would be Johnson’s-Glass House. I hope they won’t throw stones at me for saying that. It is much closer, and I think it would be just as much fun as my first choice. Also, I understand that there are many homes around that area worth seeing, although not museums. My idea of paradise all the way around. Here’s hoping you hit me up with tickets.

  • I live in NYC, and I would really love to take my boyfriend to the Natural History Museum to see the exhibit on “Our Global Kitchen:Food, Nature, Culture.” Food — cooking, sharing, eating — is such a shared human experience, and it’s one of my favorite ways to spend time with people. I’ve been writing a bit about this topic on my blog, and I would love to learn more about how food intersects with culture and history in other parts of the world.

  • I have always wanted to go to the Winchester Mystery House. It’s in San Jose, an hour south of me. The idea of it is super creepy, but also I have read about the beautiful woodwork and stained glass. I love museums that are sort of biographical- a little view into one person’s life.

  • The Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture in Spokane, WA is where I have wanted to go since I moved to the Inland Northwest 8 1/2 years ago. This is my year of getting off the couch, new adventures and a start of new life.

  • What a well-timed post for me. I’m going to the Boston MFA tomorrow, the first time in 2013. I went 4 or 5 times last year and though the main collection is rather static, the changing exhibits are dynamic, modern and sometimes even mind-blowing. I am lucky to have museums near me like the Isabella Gardner Museum, as interesting for its collection as for the building itself. What gorgeous architecture! But if given my choice, I’d try someplace new – the Harvard Museum of Natural History. It’s an experience I have planned for this year, but I’d love it to be sponsored by my favorite site!

  • I would love to go to MOMA in San Francisco. Of course, since I live in Hawaii, this would require me getting on a plane, staying in San Francisco, eating fantastic food, etc. So yes, I would love to go to MOMA in San Francisco! (Planning to go to SF anyway)

  • I love the newest museum in the USA…Crystal Bridges in Bentonville Arkansas. It is American art and the collection is crazy good.

  • Oooh, museums. My mom and I are planning a trip to NYC soon and our entire itinerary is filled with museums and places to eat! We will be visiting the “classics” of course, but I think I’m most excited to visit the Neue Galeria. While the collection might be a bit more limited in scope, I think it’ll be a really interesting visit–especially the decorative arts (since they sometimes seem a little under-respresented in museums). Plus, I’ve heard their cafes have pretty good eats!

  • I’d love to go to the SF MOMA! I just moved up to the Bay a few months ago and have been wanting to go so badly! I’d love to bring a friend too! I loved getting lost in the art and history in museums. I feel like it would be the best introduction to my new home!

  • I am not sure I can beat out the commenter who wants to go to the Museum of Math – I mean, who wouldn’t LEAP at the chance to be one of the first at that new museum.

    I love museums and go as often as I can. I love making notes and lists of favorite pieces. Afterward, I indulge in a coffee or tea at the overpriced café and savor what I’ve seen and felt. Then, a quick exit through the gift shop is required to add to my postcard collection.

    Recent favorite was the Edward Hopper show at the Grand Palais in Paris. It was such a treat to see his entire life’s work laid out like that.

    I’d like to see the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit here a the Denver Art Museum. She’s one of the most inspiring artists ever.

  • I would love to visit the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC with my art teacher friend — we made it to the gift shop once right before closing, and it was amazing. (I hope that’s not the best part!)

  • my sons have been dying to visit the met and look at the antiquities. as young teenagers, i love their interest in history and want to encourage it. we are definitely going this spring!

  • this is awesome.. although, carrying watercolor with you to a museum is tricky, as you’ll need water and paper towels and a blank strip of paper to test the color palette. I’m not sure of how the museum feels about that. usually they just let people sketch.

  • My favorite book forever as a kid was “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” Although I grew up in the Bay Area in the 70s, and Francie grew up in Brooklyn early in the century, I so identified with her experience: Irish American, child of immigrants, economic hardship, complicated–but loving–family relationships. So of course I have always, always wanted to visit the Tenement Museum. I assumed as a kid that it embodies the “Tree Grows in Brooklyn” experience; like walking through it would be like walking through my favorite book. I have since given the book to my daughter, who loves it as much as I do, which goes to show you that a good book is a good book, no matter what your experience. Anyway…that’s the museum I dream of visiting. Thanks for including the Tenement Museum in your list, and thanks for this great post!

  • Living close enough to NYC I feel foolish having not seen every museum in the city and it’s surrounds. Recently I was made aware of the Tenement Museum and that will be my next stop. After reading Pete Hamill’s book “Forever” years ago I have been fascinated with the history of NYC but I don’t know the city well enough to just launch out on my own discovery tour! A destination helps focus my visit…and this museum will definitely help me understand more of times, the people and their lives and how they shaped the future.

  • I’ve never been to the Musical Instrument Museum (called MIM, such a cool nickname) but I’ve been dreaming of going. They have a great reputation, people who visit always say “You HAVE to go!”. I love music and it’s history and know I will love the interactive exhibits this museum is famous for. Great post, I am going to review the museums here to see if there are any others I’ve missed.

  • I would really love to take my partner to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. They are doing a big exhibit on food and culture right now, and he is a cook– so it would be perfect. I had wanted to take him there for his birthday but I was a bit too broke.

  • I’ve been really wanting to go to the Tenement Museum in NYC with my boyfriend Eli. Eli is Jewish and his mother is originally from New York. While she did not grow up in the Lower East Side, the LES remains to her (and him) such an emblem of Jewish-American history and struggle. I am Puerto Rican and the LES is also an emblem of Puerto Rican history and the struggles my forebears went through in search of opportunities and a better way of life for the following generations. If we won tickets to the Tenement Museum, the trip would turn into a day of celebrating and honoring both of our cultures and histories. After the tour, we would get a meal at one of the delicious Puerto Rican restaurants that remain in the area, followed by dried fruit and treats from Russ & Daughters, plus a portion of their delicious whitefish and smoked salmon salad to-go, to have on toast (rye, of course) for breakfast the rest of the week. It’s not often that Jewish and Puerto Rican culture meet, but this would be one of those cases (as in our relationship) where they complement each other in meaningful ways.

  • My “local” museum is OMA in Central Florida & I try to visit at least once a year. I think I’m a little behind in that goal. Thank you for the reminder. We also have a folk museum in the area that I need to visit soon.

  • I would love to visit the San Diego Museum of Man’s Instruments of Torture Exhibition. It is supposed to be a thought provoking exhibit with pieces visiting from a museum in Italy. Going along with the theme of the exhibit, it provides examples of aspects of the US post 9/11.

    Most people who go to museums (myself included in many cases) go to say they went rather than going to learn and be enriched. My boyfriend and I are trying to slowly change that through a company we’re starting. I’m pinning your post to share because it’s a great for anyone going to a museum. Keep up the good work!

  • YIkes, this is tough! We live in DC, so I’ve been wanting to check out the National Buildling Museum for a while, though I’ve also been wanting to visit the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Arlington.

  • I love all my local museums! The one I am currently really wanting to visit is the California Science Center because the Space Shuttle is there! I never wanted to be an astronaut, but for some reason the shuttle FASCINATES me! When it flew here and then was driven through the streets I couldn’t stop looking at all the coverage…it is just so amazing to think that it was once zooming around in space!

  • I love the Portland Art Museum here in Portland, OR. I would take MAX from the medical building where my ex-husband was sleeping through his chemo infusion and lose myself in the beauty and quiet of the space. That museum was the best medicine for me during a difficult time.

  • The Sarasota Museum of Art. We’ve just moved, and are yearning for an artistic connection to our new home city. Walking in a museum, taking time to really LOOK and FEEL and get a sense of what artifacts are unique to your place and time, makes me feel grounded. I am searching for art, and would love to get to the museum!!!

  • Umm I don’t know what museum would let you bring watercolors into the galleries?!! Our museum is pencil on paper only around the art, for good reason!

    • AHG

      I’ve seen people (not in any special group) using them in galleries and museums in NYC, SF and DC. I don’t think it’s prohibited everywhere, you just need to ask and find if places offer special times/rooms to paint in.

      For example, this is the Brooklyn Museum’s policy: http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/faq.php

      You just need to ask for permission or a permit sometimes :)


  • I love this concept! Great job!
    But FYI despite what they lead you to believe you DO NOT have to pay to go to the Met. Their fee is “recommended,” but it is in their founding charter that they cannot require anyone to pay admission. Though it is nice to pay the full amount, don’t let it stop you if you can’t afford it.

  • If you live anywhere in the midwest you must make a road trip to visit St. Louis’s City Museum. We make the 5 hour drive at least once a year. The City Museum is an eclectic experience, reminiscent of a sideshow or steam-punk amusement park, hands-on, like no other museum. Crafted by eccentric artists, the museum is built from reclaimed materials, like airplanes & school buses. Its wacky, interactive, inspiring and one of a kind. Includes multi-story slides, caves, climbing tunnels, mini train, tiny circus, odd aquariums, bar and ice cream parlor, etc.


  • There are many museums I’d love to see, all over the world, but close to home, I’d like go to the Tacoma Art Museum. Currently, I believe they have a Warhol exhibit, but it’s always an interesting place to visit, I support the local community & I don’t have to travel very far to get there, so it’s perfect, all the way around!

  • You’ve inspired me !!! We used to live in dc and spent countless days in all the treasures there. It was always an adventure…bringing the girls to the open sketching days at the Corcoran, discovering something new to eat at the Native American museum, the silent sadness of the holocaust memorial…..so much. And now we live in the land of chain restaurants and castles of entertainment not culture….but you made me realize I just need to look a little closer, and a bit harder to find the essence of the story here. So yes, we need ” to get out” and do just that….not sure what we will find but that’s the adventure for sure …. with appreciation.

  • If anyone is in Boston, please come visit Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. We have an enormous art collection showcased in a 15th century Venetian inspired palace with a 4-story indoor courtyard. The collection never changes and it takes you into the world of Mrs. Gardner’s travels, friendships with artists and writers, and her own style of collage mixing furniture with paintings, fabrics, and objects.

  • Ooooh, I love the Natural History Museum or the Frick, but I’d probably choose the Guggenheim because I’ve never visited there before.

  • I would love to bring my 4-year-old daughter to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, because it’s small enough that she won’t be overwhelmed, but full of such beautiful and varied art that she’ll still be impressed. Plus I think she’d be amazed that it was once somebody’s house!

  • How about the Getty Museum in LA …. so we can see the Special Installation at the Getty Center Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter | February 16–March 31
    We will buy plane tickets from Colorado!

  • Would love to visit the Tenement Museum. I live in NYC and have wanted to go there so many times, but so far have only done some major browsing in their bookstore.

  • My husband & I would love to visit the fernbank museum in Atlanta. We recently got married and as every one told us the first year of marriage is tough. We are always working and saving money to start our new life together which I appreciate but we rarely have a date night (or day) any more. It would be amazing to go see the new exhibits at the fernbank with my husband and have a relaxing date with him.

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