The Value of Museum Audio Tours

Mikus Kins Mona Lisa

While millions of people visit museums around the world each year, very few decide to supplement their visits with guided audio tours. Simply put, the museum-goers who do not take audio tours are missing out – and here’s why.

There is certainly intrinsic value to experiencing and engaging with art on a purely visual level. However, much of what makes a piece of art significant is its context – namely, the social, political and religious circumstances that led to its creation. Without this information readily available – that is, beyond the simple text included on a plaque next to a piece of art – one is unable to fully grasp the importance of each piece of art, where it lies in the cannon, and why the piece is worthwhile and significant enough to be displayed in a museum. Resultantly, a museum-goer who moves through a museum guided only by the aesthetic cues of the art is lacking knowledge of the greater context behind the art that undoubtedly enhances the experience of interacting with it.

Furthermore, a large subset of society learns best through audio instruction. These people accrue a much more holistic understanding of the works on display in a museum when they view the art with an accompanying audio track guiding them through the space, resulting in a lasting memory of having visited said museum and viewed historically and culturally significant pieces of art that would not have made as much of an impact as a purely visual tour through the museum would.

Essentially, an audio tour enhances the experience of visiting a museum by informing the visitor not only about the techniques that went into the creation of the art, and not only information about the artists, but also about why they should care about each work of art in the scheme of the world’s cultural history. I highly recommend investing the extra money to rent an audio tour the next time you visit a new museum, or even one you’ve visited before. You’ll be amazed at how much more you get out of your visit with this one simple investment.