10 Tips For Planning The Perfect Museum Dateby Chiara Atik on January 31, 2011
Museums might just make the best first date spots of all–often affordable, widely available, with walls that are lined with conversation-starters. From planning the date to the perfect closing move, we’ve here’s how to optimize your museum trip to make a perfect and easy first date.
One Thing To Keep In Mind: Usually, when you go to a museum the main point is to see the art. For dates though, the actual museum becomes secondary to, well, the date. Basically, you’re going to spend time with a person and get to know them, and the museum will provide a backdrop and facilitate this process. So don’t get too intimidated by or hung up on the art itself, at least not for the purposes of this guide, in which we’re talking about museums as date spots.
Choose Your Museum Wisely
True story, once I went on a date to the Holocaust Museum. We didn’t plan it, it just happened to be the first museum we came across. It was almost comically disastrous, and really really depressing.
If you live in a town that boasts a wide variety of museums, put some thought into which one you’ll want to visit for your date. Size totally matters, and the more manageable the better. A smaller museum gives you a chance to see the whole collection without feeling overwhelmed, and you can walk through at a nice pace without feeling rushed to make it to everything.
Another advantage to smaller, quirkier museums is that there’s a higher probability that you or your date won’t have been there before–and it’s much more fun when the experience is new to both of you.
Some great date museums: The Merchant House Museum (NYC), The Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia) Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), Rubin Musem (NYC), Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), Hirshhorn Museum (DC), Cartoon Art Museum (San Francisco).
If you choose instead to go to a larger museum, try going for a specific show or gallery. You can always explore the rest of the exhibits if you don’t feel burnt out.
Time It Out
An hour and 15 minutes is a pretty safe amount of time to plan on wandering through a museum–many people will get bored or restless after that amount of time. After about an hour and fifteen, be ready to move on to the next thing (drinks? dinner? coffee at the museum cafe?). If you guys don’t feel quite ready to go yet, you can stay longer, but definitely be ready to leave the second your date does. (Otherwise, it will feel more like an endless school field trip than a date.)
Check For Specials
Museums looooooove young people. Most have special nights a few times a month where they combine drink specials and prolonged visiting hours. (Because alcohol+evening=youth). These obviously make perfect date nights. (Because alcohol+art=stuff to talk about.)
Not An Art Expert? That’s What Websites Are For.
If you don’t know anything at all about the subject at hand, you can still go to a museum and have a perfectly nice time discovering something completely new with your date.
If you’re one of those people who loves to impress, use this little trick:
Most museums have highlights from their collection online. Pick one piece, and read the website information. Then, when you happen upon the piece with your date, you can say (in a surprised and delighted tone), “Ah! The Merode Triptych!” and your date will be duly impressed and you can just casually say that you remember it from an art history class you took.
Oh, there are lies and then there are good lies.
Skip The Guided Tour
Let “date, not field trip!” be your mantra. If you REALLY want to take the curated tour, go back on your own time.
Also, don’t give the tour yourself.
Maybe you know a lot about the collection and kind of like to show off a bit. Bite your tongue and keep yourself from marching your date through the museum on your tour. It’s cool and sexy and impressive that you know so much about art but share information, don’t lecture, and make sure you let your date experience the art at their own pace. No “Spit spot! We have a LOT to see!” (Do you KNOW how many boyfriends I’ve lost because of this?)
How To Talk About Art
Maybe you have years of art history and an extensive art-vocabulary with which to describe what you’re seeing. But you really don’t need any background at all in order to talk about art with your date.
Use the art as a jumping off point for your conversation–what does it make you think or feel? What does it make you remember? How do you think it was painted or constructed? Do you think it’s funny, does it make you sad, or does it make you feel nothing at all?
A really really really important thing to remember is that even if you know nothing about art, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a perfectly valid opinion of what you’re looking at. So a very simple “do you like it?” can be a great starting off point for date conversations. (And if you find yourself wandering the galleries, looking at the art, but talking about something completely different, that’s perfectly ok, too.)
Head To The Cafe
Museums make it so easy to segment your date: if after a while you’re tired of standing, make your way over to the museum cafe. Many serve alcohol, but even if not, you can have coffee.
Cute Closing Move
It’s virtually impossible to exit a museum without going by the gift shop, but use this to your advantage. Museum gift shops sell postcards of most of the popular pieces in the collection. Was there a piece that your date liked in particular, or that you both lingered over or talked about? Buy the postcard for them. An inexpensive, thoughtful and cute gesture .