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Day at the Museum

The class trip is planned and this year it includes a museum visit. Oh boy. Theres very little thats more intimidating than taking students into the hallowed halls of a cultural institution. Moving in large peer groups with gangly limbs flailing about, most think of students as high-risk museum visitors. However, museums love student groups! Just a few reminders and rules of etiquette can help ensure that the kids love the experience as well and the day at the museum is a successful one for all involved.

FOOD AND DRINK
A standard rule of thumb is that most museums prohibit food and drink in the exhibit areas. A caf or cafeteria may be available, or sack lunches permitted in designated areas. Chewing gum may also be prohibited- check with your specific site for details.

TOUCHING
Whether or not exhibits are hands-on is entirely dependent on the museum. Some encourage hands-on exploration, while others prefer a hands-off approach to preserve artifacts and displays.

NOISE
Student groups are noisy; its the nature of the beast. However, it is not impossible to be a bit more reserved while in a museum. The museum environment is often one of reflection and introspection. Using the universal indoor voice will make it a better experience for everyone.

BACKPACKS
As a general rule, leave backpacks on the bus or at the front desk. Carrying them into the gallery is risking bumping a display or damaging artwork.

CELL PHONES
Cell phones should be off or silenced while in a museum.

DOCENT
Your museum guide, or docent, is instrumental in making your experience exceptional. Docents are well-trained, knowledgeable and helpful. They will keep the group engaged and on task. Be kind to them!

PHOTOGRAPHY
Most museums try to eliminate natural light (both visible and invisible) to avoid damaging objects on display. Therefore, many discourage the use of photography to protect collections. This isnt always the case, though, and you should check with your specific institution for guidelines prior to your visit.

Museums dont have to be scary places for student groups. They are filled with opportunities to learn, appreciate and be inspired. Following a few common-sense rules ensures that all patrons have an exceptional experience and a phenomenal day at the museum.