How to go to a museum alone

Written by Amelia Dogan

A teen using the STAMP app at a museum.
A teen using the STAMP app at a museum.

Sure, it’s great when I have a friend to go to a museum with, but more often than not, most of my friends are not available or not interested in going to museum with me. They find museums dull, unengaging, or otherwise unwelcoming to them. Those feelings though, are a part of a much larger question about who cultural institutions welcome and are inclusive towards. All young people should feel confident using the STAMP pass to engage more with Philadelphia. However, that is not the purpose of my post today; I want to talk about the discomfort of being alone at an event.

Going to a museum alone will probably not feel great at first. It takes a lot of confidence to leave my house and go to a museum. I sometimes feel awkward, shy, and that I shouldn’t be there alone. These feelings are normal but learning how to be alone is important. There will be points when you leave home and being able to spend time with yourself is part of being an adult. There are differences being alone and lonely though; mostly, it is about the state of mind. It is important to focus on your motivation for going to the museum in the first place. I go to museums because I’m curious about their collection or a specific event. I usually bring a pair of headphones to listen to music or a podcast while getting to the museum. This helps to ease my uneasiness. I might bring a book or check social media if I feel too out of place waiting for an event to start.

Usually, by the middle though, I start to notice that yes, other people are here alone. I don’t stand out because I am here alone. However, some people will always be uncomfortable about having a young person in the space. Sometimes, they give me weird looks or comment about my age. This is a stigma that we need to change because museums are supposed to be public institutions that welcome all sorts of folks. By going to a museum alone, I hope to normalize the idea that young folks are welcome to spend their free time in the museum. After all, that’s what the STAMP pass is for.