The 11 Things You Should Never Do in an Art Gallery

© Aaina Sharma/Unsplash
Photo of India Irving
Social Media Editor5 January 2018

They’re quiet, oftentimes vast and always filled with expensive art. But art galleries are also a place where etiquette is key. So what should you never do when in one? Here are 11 huge no-no’s to keep in mind for your next visit.

Take photos

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Of course, certain galleries and museums do allow photos, but make sure you check before you start on that Insta story. Sometimes, there will be certain rooms where pics are allowed and others where they are forbidden, so keep your eyes open and be respectful of the artist’s and the institution’s wishes.

Take your clothes off

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Before you start rolling your eyes, people actually do this! Normally it’s for a performance art piece or to make some sort of political statement but no matter the reason people, it is illegal so resist the urge if you don’t want security escorting you out!

Talk on the phone

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While not necessarily forbidden, it is definitely bad form to chat on the phone in an art gallery. People are there to experience the art, not to listen to you consoling your friend about his or her bad date.

Overdo the Insta

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Yes, we know you want to Instagram the art, and as long as photography is allowed (see above) that’s absolutely awesome. However, don’t gram so much that you miss out on the in-person experience! Art is deeply personal and can be quite moving, but if you’re on your phone the whole time trying to capture the right angle, you’ll miss out.

Break anything

Yayoi Kusama | Photo by India Irving

We know this sounds insane but, shockingly, a lot of very expensive artwork is damaged by museum goers, whether by spilling on it or bumping into it in pursuit of that selfie (yes, that actually happened). Be careful and don’t let this be you.

Arrive too late

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Always give yourself enough time to see an exhibition. If you arrive, let’s say, half an hour before an institution closes, not only will you possibly be denied entry, but you also won’t have a chance to really experience the artwork. Make sure to give yourself at least an hour for a gallery, and two hours for a museum. Then ,if you finish early, you can always hit the café or gift shop.

Fall asleep

© Stefan Draschan

This might seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised! In fact, there is actually an entire Tumblr account dedicated to photos of people sleeping in museums. Don’t be those people.

Insult the work

Amerika No.1 painting by Stella Michaels | © Oljagged/WikiCommons

Viewing art is all about having an opinion, but remember that saying you don’t like something is quite different from saying it’s ‘bad’. Never insult an artwork. Never ever.

Say ‘my __ could have done that’

© Cmax18/WikiCommons

Think your toddler/sibling/dog could have painted that? 1) They didn’t. 2) Keep it to yourself.

Ignore the context

© Abhi Sharma/WikiCommons

Curators spend a lot of time writing those long introductions you see on museum walls or in stapled brochures at galleries – read them! Knowing the context of an artwork can make a huge difference in your feelings about it so never skip out on the reading.

Touch the art

© Brownpau/WikiCommons

This is a bit of an obvious one, we know. But yeah, keep those hands to yourself.