The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Best Way to Visit Art Museums

Here’s how to skip the crowds, make sure you see the important works, and discuss them with an expert.

Do you love art museums but not crowds or waiting in line? Would you prefer to converse with an expert about what you’re viewing rather than listen to canned commentary on headphones? If so, consider signing up for a private art tour. Some examples:

U.S. Museum Hack offers small-group tours at such places as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles’s Getty Center, and San Francisco’s de Young Fine Arts Museum. The two-hour tours include a wine and chocolate break. Info:

New York. Critic and college lecturer Merrily Kerr discusses contemporary art on private and scheduled tours of major museums as well as galleries in Chelsea and the Lower East Side. Info:

Amsterdam, Holland. An art-history scholar leads tours at such places as Rembrandt House and the Van Gogh Museum. Info:

Paris. A guide walks you through the Louvre, Orsay Museum, Rodin Sculpture Garden and Museum, or any of several other museums. Transportation to and from your hotel is optional. Info:

Athens, Greece. Customized four-hour walking tours in a city that has become a street-art mecca include pickup from some hotels, Greek coffee, and a farewell gift. Info:

Buenos Aires, Argentina. Explore the emerging avant-garde art scene of Palermo as you visit five to eight galleries and see street murals on a three-hour tour. Info:

Bangkok, Thailand. A four-hour tour takes you to up-and-coming artists’ studios and quirky, hard-to-find galleries and can include show openings, depending on when you book. Info:

—Margie Goldsmith