How to save money on museum fees by visiting the gift shop instead!

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So this is probably going to be self-explanatory, but I think we’ve all found ourselves at one time or another in the position of wanting to cut back on expenses, and wondering whether something or other is worth the entry fee or not.

For whatever reason, art museums are some of the most commonly-mentioned sightseeing activities in guidebooks and other travel sources; this is changing pretty quickly, as adventure junkies and hipster weirdos demand ever-more “unique” travel experiences, and skip the museums entirely.

It makes plenty of sense, though. If you don’t visit museums for fun at home, why bother visiting them somewhere else? Some of those tickets cost $20 or more, and can’t you see everything on a computer anyway? Yes. Yes you can.

It’s kind of a predicament, because I’ve visited plenty of interesting museums; those that have weird exhibits, interesting explanations, unusual works of art that aren’t just Renaissance paintings like all the others, and so on. But you never really know what you’re going to get until after you buy a ticket.

Unless you visit the gift shop instead:

Gift shop postcards
There isn’t even a velvet rope to block your path.

Yup, that’s every important painting in the museum, prominently and conveniently displayed in postcard form for you to peruse. All for free, of course.

I’m always surprised at how extensive the gift shop selections can be, especially when they have full-size posters that are the same size as the real paintings. I mean, yeah, it’s nicer to see the real one, but is it worth $20 if you’re just going to forget everything anyway?

Besides, you can get up close and examine everything on your own time, without being rushed by everyone behind you:

Gift shop prints
The plastic wrap is kind of like a protective glass case, but oh well.

I don’t mean to badmouth museums too much, or recommend not going at all. But if you’re short on cash, or you’re just running out of time, a gift shop visit is the next best thing.

It’s also a good way to sample what’s inside, to see if you really want to spend the money to see what’s there. Occasionally there’s a really famous work of art inside, and for some people, that’s worth the price of entry. For others, not so much. But this is a good way to check.

Gift shop ceramics
Some of this would actually be useful, too.

Museums are always going to be an iffy sightseeing activity, because you never quite know what you’re going to get until after you buy a ticket and go inside. You’ll feel like you might be missing out if you skip it, but you might feel like you’re wasting your time and money if you go inside and it’s just boring.

So if you’re on the fence about museums, give this a try instead. It might even be kinda fun.

Not great fun…but kinda fun.

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