Gallery visiting etiquette

11 11 2009

I visited the Abbotsford Convent Open day on Sunday. It was so busy that it took me longer to find a park (eventually three block away) than I actually ended up spending at the Convent. Why didn’t I stay longer, I hear you ask? Well in a nutshell, ignorant gallery visitors.

The first thing I did upon entering the property was visit C3 gallery, and what was an interesting exhibition was ruined by observing a few stupid visitors. Had they not been let out of the house before? Nothing quite gets me more annoyed than inconsiderate and simply dumb behaviour in art gallery spaces. Why can’t common sense prevail I ask you?

Perhaps all potential gallery visitors should be personally given an interview at the entry, to ascertain if they are aware of ‘the rules’ or are at least in possession of reasonable critical consideration. That would be a little over the top I admit…

While I would imagine everyone has their own set of rules they’d love other gallery visitors to abide by, here are mine (though I do reserve the right to add as experience necessitates and as my thoughts clarify!) …

  • do not touch;
    seriously, do not touch;
    that means everyone, yes including you even if you’re ‘careful’, DO NOT touch the art;
    especially if there are signs, written in very large font, that actually say: DO NOT TOUCH THE ART;
    even if there are no signs, just assume that you’re being asked not to touch;
    only touch if you are actively encouraged to do so, and as this is quite a rare occurrence, you’ll be quite sure when it happens – someone will personally invite you to do so and may even show you how…
  • do not lean on the plinths (clearly associated with the above rule);
    do not rest your glass or papers or any part of your person on the plinths;
    surely with glass-top ones it’s obvious you’re ruining the see-through-ness of them, no? not to mention risk damaging the art…
  • related to the second point above, be spatially aware of you and your limbs;
    accidents do happen, but carelessly knocking over displays or objects or whacking wall-hung art is uncool
  • do not stand in front of the art, blocking it for others, if you’re not actually looking at the art but instead are chatting with your friends about getting so drunk last night, or texting, or inanely talking (like) about (like) so-and-so on your mobile
  • mobiles … could mobiles be turned to silent perhaps; genuine emergencies, such as if you’re waiting for your friend to give birth or your child is in hospital, are of course forgiven
  • I am absolutely in favour of introducing children to art and encouraging their interest; however, if your little one is screaming uncontrollably, they may benefit from a little outside-time to calm down; and they should never be allowed to run completely amok without consideration of the safety of the artwork
  • do not steal the art
    mmm, you wouldn’t think this would need to be written or said out loud…
    but it is very sad that this actually happens

I wanted to inform said observed ‘inexperienced’ visitors of the error of their ways – they were picking up components of an installation work, and yes, there were signs everywhere requesting the art not be touched – but I was so amazed at such ignorant behaviour that the best I could do was to quickly walk out.

Would you like to add anything to the list?


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6 responses

11 11 2009
vettiliveinnorthcote

do not eat takeaway food in the gallery

do not run in the gallery

…sadly, i have seen both fairly recently

11 11 2009
Karen

Thank you Vetti – agreed, they’re to be added the universal list.

11 11 2009
Inari

Thank you, great stuff, with feeling!
There’s just one thing I need to ask …

CAN I TOUCH THE ART???
: ) : ) : )

11 11 2009
Karen

You make me smile Inari!

11 11 2009
Zoe

Just because you can’t find the price on the object – Please Please Please do not, i repeat DO NOT say “oh it must be free”.

12 11 2009
Mark Holsworth

Excellent list. Spatial awareness of bags and umbrella also helps. Small children brought to large galleries should be equipped with a small sketch book and pencil, even if they are too young to write they can still draw; it makes them good visitors and it keeps their hands off the art. And one more do, there have been too many don’t, talk to other people in the gallery.




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