A Museum Taster Guide – an example from Arts Institute Chicago

Taking leaflets and printed material from the places I visit has become a reflex of mine. This time, from the Art Institute of Chicago, I took these short tour printed guides amongst other things.

I think they are such a good idea.

Mini Tours

As a regular museum visitor I often get overwhelmed by the amount of galleries that I have to navigate around and the variety of objects displayed in them. This is especially the case with larger museums.

How many of you have been to a large museum such as the British Museum? How many of you have been to the British Museum several times? How many of you have actually seen every gallery let alone every object displayed? OK, this doesn’t apply to those who work there!

When there is so much to see, and time is short, it is really helpful to have a guide that gives suggestions of the ‘must see’ exhibits.

Arts institute map

I don’t know whether they are already doing this at the Art Institute, but I think there is a possibility of having a variety of these guides, with different themes at different times. And continuously changing them might prompt visitors to come back and see the museum again, in a different light, encouraging repeat visits.

In this example, you can see highlights of the collection on the map. It also suggests what you need to can see in 1 hour. The other guide concentrates on collections that particularly links to the city of Chicago. One more I particularly like, it looks at the detail of paintings. This is detail we would miss without the guide and adds to our visitor experience.

what to see in an hour

This concept in a small museum can be particularly useful as a way of handling the feeling that ‘the displays never change’. I suppose in a way it is a bit like a trail but for adults.

What do you think? Does your museum do the same thing? If it does, do share. I also would love to know what actual visitors think about this.

5 thoughts on “A Museum Taster Guide – an example from Arts Institute Chicago

  1. Hi Jane, as an avid museum visitor who likes to do a lot of quick, casual visiting, I love your idea of having multiple must-see guides for different times and to encourage multiple visits. What about different guides for different interests – with the option to give feedback on whether the guide was helpful?


    1. Hi! Hi-Five on being Museum Fans.

      Yes definitely re:Interests. That is a great idea. I think it will work for museums with a large variety of collections. Perhaps not for a small museum, I just keep thinking about the promotion of the guides. 🙂

      Feedback is also really important. Although, quite often people love taking away museum guide for a memento of their visit, or is that just me? hahaha. So maybe not attached to the printed guide. I guess this would be great for App based guides. What do you think?


    1. Yes. again I think this will work so great on an app, or digitally recorded guide. People can suggest a trail and then other can say they like it or not to move it up through the list of trails.


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