Making Art Accessible: How to Enjoy Art Even If You’re Not Really an Art Person

Art has always been important to me. I grew up at the Hoyt, running between legs at gallery openings and staring with wide eyes at the carefully composed blotches of color grown-ups called art work. As I got older, the blotches began to look like landscapes, or portraits, or abstract pieces, and I began to find excitement in studying them. Three years at university later, I am studying art history and spending most of my free time frolicking through local museums. Art, beyond being important, is something fun for me.

I was shocked to find that not all my friends in college thought of art as “fun”. Almost everyone agreed it was important—it is famous, after all—but a majority vote indicated that there was nothing particularly enjoyable about art. I vowed to change their minds, and we set a date for a trip to Philadelphia’s main art museum. A few weeks later, lined up in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (with some mild fear in their eyes), my friends waited for me to impart my knowledge: how do you enjoy art?

The answer? Don’t take it—or yourself—too seriously.

I’m no wise man (if anything, I’m a wisecracker), but getting into the arts at any age is easy once you get past the toughest part: getting comfortable in a museum. People are often intimidated by the art world…and that’s perfectly normal! Museums are scary at first, to all ages. They’re often all white walls, all quiet whispers, no running, and Absolutely No Touching…almost trying to get you in trouble. But you shouldn’t let the museum freak you out! I promise you: you don’t have to walk on your tiptoes, you’re allowed to talk in a normal speaking voice, and (while you shouldn’t touch any artwork) there’s no harm in parking yourself in front of a piece and staring at it for a bit.

“But Reagan,” you might cry, “I’m fine with museums, art is just boring!”

Here, you would be wrong. For sure, art is not for everyone! But I have a few hacks that make a day in the museum fun for even the most cynical of us.

The first? Meme. Everything. If you’re part of an older crowd, this might be a bit unfamiliar to you, but “memeing” is the process of putting funny captions on potentially humorous subjects, like so:

Art museums are FULL of memable content, and you don’t need to know anything about the painting to do it (although sometimes knowing the title, history, or intention makes the meme that much funnier!). Going through a gallery with friends, family, or even by yourself is a really fun time when your intention is to have a goof.

My other bit of advice to make things interesting for everyone is…impersonation! This is best done in a group of three or more! So many paintings and sculptures strike wacky poses or have hilarious facial expressions—trying to recreate them with your group is a challenge and super fun for all involved!

Take the lead from the youngest visitors, let yourself be silly!

I hope you take these tips to heart and get out to some art places with your family and friends (or all on your own).

In every museum, gallery, or institute there is something for everybody—you just have to find it! Get excited—and remember to let yourself be silly.

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