what’s in my bag | museum edition

If I were to name a few things that could spoil a visit to a museum, I’d definitely begin with… luggage. Imagine a riddiculously heavy bag with lots of important stuff that you prefer not to leave in the cloakroom, or a backpack so big that it won’t fit into a locker. It’s just as annoying as the moment when you realise that you’d like to take some notes, but your phone is dead, and you forgot to take a notebook. Today’s post have been preceded by long years of observations and experience. Believe me, for if there is a list of wrong decisions that one can make while packing his bag before setting off to a museum, I’ve probably made all of them.

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A few years ago, while studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, I was visiting Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien. I used to carry whole arsenal of drawing tools with me — pens, pencils, pastels, even a bottle of Indian ink. I took it out intending to make a few sketches, but as soon as I dipped the nib of my pen in ink, I was asked to put it back into my bag by a very resolute guard — for safety regulations. Another time, I hadn’t checked whether taking photos of the collection is permitted or not, and I had to leave my camera in the museum cloakroom. Obviously, I forgot to collect it on leaving the museum (I’m pretty sure it was Museu Picasso in Barcelona). I came back to the museum and did a very unsuccessful search in the cloakroom, only to discover that one of my travel companions had been kind enough as to take the camera for me.

Well, now that I have explained the reason for writing this post, I’d like to present a short list of items that accompany me during my visits to museums.

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  1. a small bag | The one presented above was designed by a young Polish designer and pursemaker, Weronika Woch. Click here and here to discover more of her beautiful leather goods.
  2. something to write with
  3. a small notebook | This pretty one was a birthday gift from a friend of mine, and came to me directly from Florence.
  4. eyedrops | I wear contact lenses, and my eyes get tired and sore very quickly because of the air conditioning, or unusual lighting.
  5. ICOM membership card | Since October 2015 I am a member of ICOM, the International Council of Museums. My membership card allows me to visit many museums all over the world without paying the admission fee. The gorgeous wooden cardholder was handmade by my Husband!
  6. eyeglasses | I have them with me just in case my contact lenses have become extremely uncomfortable to wear.
  7. iPad mini | Most of the museums have a wi-fi connection, which is great if you want to find additional information on something that particularily catched your attention.

You’re probably wondering why there’s no camera on my list. Well, let me explain. I used to take a lot of pictures in museums, but some time ago I noticed that I remember much more from my visit when I have but a notebook and a pencil. Moreover, I think that there are very few more annoying things than a loud shutter sound that interrupts your moment of contemplation of an artwork you admire. Obviously, I still take some photos in a museum — usually with my phone or iPad — but I rarely use them as a “token of remembrance”, rather as a documentation. After all, many museums have their collections digitised, and provide them online in a very good quality. That’s why I’d like to encourage you to leave your cameras at home, and go to a museum equipped only with your own memory, and a small notebook. I hope that you’ll enjoy the difference.

museum assistant



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