The Chicago Tribune ran an article last week called "Museum Manners" on how to behave yourself in a museum, and, while we know you all have Judith Martin's entire library of books, a reminder never hurts:
With the assistance of an etiquette expert and a collection of museum employees, who, trust us, have seen it all, we have compiled a brief guide to museum manners in the age of iPhones, bucket-size coffee drinks and handbags you could pitch a tent in.Our favorite sentence in the article? "Jeffrey Arnett, manager of development and marketing for the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago says he is frequently forced to mediate the conflict between modern visitors' hydration needs and the more arid requirements of a photography collection."
The good news is that Chicago's museum employees say you are pretty close to perfect just the way you are. They don't care what you're wearing as long as it's not a backpack. There is nothing you could say about their exhibits that would offend them; they're just happy to have started a conversation. They're flattered that you want to take their picture.
. . . Museum manners, however, have to take into account one fairly unique circumstance. "You're dealing with priceless objects. It's one of the few places that is true."
Which is why, at the Art Institute of Chicago, public affairs director Erin Hogan says, pens, flash photography and backpacks are unwelcome. Also, she says, "we are not a huge fan of pointing," which can lead to jabbing, which runs the risk of unintentional contact with artwork.