How To Go On A Museum Date

14 February 2012

Love it or hate it, today is Valentine’s Day. When I was thinking of a museum related post I could for the blog today, I was reminded of a project I was involved with at National Museums Scotland just before I left. We worked with some groups of young people to create their own self-guided tours around the Museum of Scotland. As well as perennial favourite topics such as blood and gore, one group chose to develop a date tour. As well as some romance related exhibits such as a statue of Queen Victoria who loved her husband Prince Albert so much she wore black in mourning for the rest of her life after his death, or a display about Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet including many love poems, their ideas included talking points to get to know each other better, e.g. taste in music at an exhibit with old gramophones, and little activities to do together, such as reciting Burns poetry or enjoying the view of Edinburgh with a little game of eye-spy from from the roof top, or sending each other morse coded messages in the Communicate gallery. Particularly sweet, I thought, was that they’d marked out on a map of the museum where were good little hidden corners to ‘steal a kiss’.

When I Googled for ‘date in a museum’, I came across a surprising number of articles with tips on how to plan your perfect museum date. Here’s a small selection of the search results:

eHow’s How to Go on a Museum Date suggests that “a first or second date at a museum sounds like a can’t-miss idea” but also warns that “as pleasant as a museum date can be…it does have a few hidden pitfalls”. Fear not, though, as the article offers some instructions that you can consult to negotiate these pitfalls:

  1. Choose the right venue.
  2. Leave your PhD at home.
  3. Respect the other person’s taste.
  4. Don’t rush.
  5. Avoid the gift shop.

(check out the article for full details on each of these steps)

The dating website How About We… recommends that “museums might just make the best first date spots of all” but ask you to keep in mind that “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”. Luckily, the site also offers some tips for planning the perfect museum date. Like eHow, they stress the importance of choosing your museum wisely (something fun, quirky and not to depressing works well), and not showing off, though if you’re “one of those people who loves to impress” you could read up on one museum highlight in advance, just to show off a little bit. There’s also some advice on how to use art as a starting point for conversation with your date, even if you’re not much of an art expert (“What does it make you think or feel?”). And since “drink specials and prolonged visiting hours…make perfect date nights”, they also suggest checking out any museum late night special events. Unlike eHow, they do recommend stopping by the gift shop at the end of your visit, as buying your date a postcard of an art piece you both liked or talked about would be “an inexpensive, thoughtful and cute gesture”. By the way, if you’ve ever wondered what the perfect time for a museum visit is, according to How About We… it’s apparently exactly one hour and 15 minutes. 

According to First Date Ideas, “as far as first date ideas go, going to a museum is considered one of the best”, and in case you were wondering, “going to a museum is not only enjoyable for older couples”. What makes museums great for a date, is that most towns have one, and there are so many different kinds that you can almost always find one to suit your tastes, though the site does remind you that before you choose a museum to go to, you should find out what your date’s respective tastes are. Art museums make a good first date if you’re interested in art, which seems like a no brainer, history buffs might like “a museum where artifacts, art and the past all meet”, and if you want something a little more hands on for your first date (pun intended?), then “science museums are perfect for those who enjoy interactive learning”. First Date Ideas is also firmly in the camp of visiting the souvenir gift shop at the end of your date.

And finally, don’t forget, nothing says ‘I love you’ like a 30 foot tapeworm! So, next time find your self in Tokyo, head down to the Meguro Parasitological Museum, it’s apparently one of the city’s hot spot for dates. No kidding.