Museum Etiquette

Wars are awful blemishes on our history. But they are also our history. Without the brave men and women who risked or lost their lives in battle, we wouldn’t be living the lives we are today.

These past few weeks we’ve been hearing a lot about the World Wars, especially because of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WWI. The amazing installation, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, has covered the moat of the Tower of London with ceramic poppies, and one of us had the privilege of volunteering.


The History Channel had a fantastic six-part mini-series about the two world wars, looking at the main protagonists and how they individually and collectively influenced the occurrences. Last weekend we watched The Monuments Men, which looks at a group of art experts entrusted with saving art from theft or destruction following WWII.

We are fascinated with the occurrences that formed the world as we know it. One of our grandfathers was right there, in France, during those months that spelled the end of WWII, returning injured, but at least going back home. Many didn’t and it’s imperative that we don’t forget their sacrifices. We have to admit that we weren’t being grim when we decided to go to the Imperial War Museum. It was a rainy day, which would have put a damper on any plans to go for a long walk, so it’s good that we didn’t have any. We put on our raincoats (they come in handy in this country) and walked to the museum.


Well, we weren’t the only ones that decided to immerse ourselves in history on a rainy Sunday. The museum was buzzing with activity. It was hard to maneuver around and even more difficult to actually see anything. We started walking upwards to get away, as much as we could, from the milling crowds, but although the number of people thinned the higher we went, it was still tough to get around.

Let’s be honest, a busy museum is good. It means that it’s popular and hopefully everyone is giving a donation, which allows places like these to keep running and allowing us to get a glimpse of the past. But there are certain behaviors that should be banned. This is what mostly bothers us when we go to a museum and what we believe people should be wary of doing:

  1. Wait your turn: Imagine this, you’re standing in front of an exhibit and trying to read the caption when out of nowhere somebody positions himself right in front of you, blocking the view, almost hitting you with their tablets with which they’re trying to take photos. Unfortunately this happens quite often and is quite disrespectful to others. Would it kill people to wait for others to finish what they’re doing and move away before wedging themselves in the middle?
  2. Keep it down: When you have a large number of people in the same area, it’s obviously going to be somewhat loud. We’re not expecting people to be dead quiet. After all, you want to discuss what you’re seeing with your companions. But for crying out loud, you’re not at the pub, so don’t act as if you are. Yes, your night out clubbing was certainly fun, but we don’t want to hear about it while we’re learning about the different techniques spies used to get information.
  3. It’s not a playground: We believe that children should be exposed to history early on, so we applaud parents who ditch the Disney store and instead take their kids to places where they can learn about the past and how this has impacted the present. But while some kids are well behaved, others treat museums as a playground and spend the time running around. So parents really need to take charge and ensure that their children are not being a nuisance, especially in a somber place like a war museum.

With all the above happening yesterday, we decided to leave after an hour or so. Fortunately it had stopped raining and we visited The Tibetan Peace Garden, on the museum grounds. It was, as the name suggests, extremely peaceful, probably because there was absolutely nobody there. It was a good way to end a visit on a positive note.

The Tibetan Peace Garden was opened by the 14th Dalai Lama in May 1999.

The Tibetan Peace Garden was opened by the 14th Dalai Lama in May 1999.

One thought on “Museum Etiquette

  1. Some years ago, I went to the National Museum in Wash DC to see the exhibit of Michelangelo’s models created to help solve problems such as of St. Peter’s dome construction. They were amazing and beautiful confluence art and science.I had my camera with me, and I was busy snapping away, without flash of course, when a guard who looked for all the world like Barney Fife, stopped me and told me no pictures allowed. I informed him I had permission from his supervisor over there and he should take it up with him. This may have been a small stretch of the truth but I was almost done anyway. While they went at it over there, I finished up and got out of the exhibit.


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