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Margaret from Dunlop Art Gallery January 16, 2020, 1:39 PM

Why Art Galleries Are The Ultimate Date Spot

There’s so much winter right now—I can’t even. But I have to say, once I finally get to where I’m going, it feels great to be out of the house, especially when I’m at the museum. It’s one of the all-time greatest date spots. I have never had a lack of interesting experiences at a museum or an art gallery.

But what if it’s early in your relationship—maybe your first date. Is it weird to go to a museum or art gallery? I don’t think so!

Firstly, galleries are good to go on an early date because they are a public place, where you can have a conversation and get to know the other person. But unlike going to a movie or restaurant, it’s not expensive, and there’s no expectation on how much time your date will take. With all the things to look at in a museum, it’s a great opportunity to have a conversation, and you can both leave gracefully whenever it feels right. And, if you’re going out with someone you’ve known for a long time, it’s good to try something new.

How do you know which gallery or exhibition to go to? This is a question of “to research or not to research?” Everyone has their own comfort level with planning. Here are some considerations: Size—how long are you planning on spending? Fun and quirky? Spooky? Scientific? Does it cost money? Some museums are huge—if you’re in Toronto or New York, seeing everything in one museum could take days, so you might want to visit just one section. (To help you plan your visit, the larger museums usually offer a description of their exhibitions on their website with a suggested estimate for the length of your visit.) Some people like to build anticipation by reading up on an exhibit first, to research some entry points into the artwork before they come. Others prefer a no-spoilers approach and like to dive in and ask questions after. In Regina, most of our museums are free, or have a minimal cost, and are just big enough for a good visit.

Be ready for surprises. Maybe the exhibition contains some material you didn’t expect—what do you do? Nudity, hot-button issues, unusual materials: there are many strategies contemporary artists use to raise questions about current issues. No worries—art in the gallery is different than art you might buy for your own home. This is a good time to take a moment and talk about the questions the artist is raising. What was their intent? Do you think they were successful? Museums can also have unexpected displays—I love a good mummy exhibit, but it’s not for everyone.
 

What if you don’t “get” the art? Relax, it’s not an exam. Artists take many approaches in creating their work. Some are solely interested in the elements of visual expression: line, colour, shape and size, and they create art that explores the way these can be put together. Some artists are interested in documenting events or sharing an experience they found moving. Others are interested in creating a situation for you to encounter or have questions about social issues. Historical artwork often has a context, conveying religious or cultural information. You can dive in and see what thoughts the artwork sparks for you; you can also ask questions in the gallery. The artwork is a great conversation starter, especially on a date.

There is one thing many people don’t agree on: how much time do you need? Are you the type to watch all the videos? Do you like to read all the panels? Do you want to skip ahead? You may find yourself testing the limits of your comfort zone. It’s okay to tell your friend that you want to skip ahead! Have fun!

When I’m nervous, I tend to talk a lot. A strategy that’s worked for me in these situations is to ask questions of the other person, and to really take time to listen to their ideas and questions. If I don’t know an answer, I’ll say so—it’s a good excuse to look it up! By learning together at a gallery, you’ll create a more powerful connection and that’s one of the many reasons it’s a perfect date.

Look no further than Hannah Claus: trade - treaty - territory exhibition at Dunlop Art Gallery from Jan. 17 to March 13 at Central Gallery. Click here for more information.

About Author

Margaret from Dunlop Art Gallery

Natural Habitat: The gallery, taking photos of snowmen, and anywhere with coffee and books.

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