How to behave in an art gallery? A question asked by many; pondered over by several; mastered only by few.

The art gallery is a space of cultural enlightenment, mental stimulation, a distinguished date spot: Instagram central. You see, once upon time people went to art galleries because they actually wanted to, perhaps an artist they liked was showing, or an exhibition had been recommended by a friend.

But please, don’t be fooled by today’s attendees, certainly not in London. Art galleries primarily serve the function of solid Instagram content, a chance to brag to others about how cultured you are, and perhaps somewhere down the line, they’re about art?

No no no don’t be so foolish, don’t blaspheme! Date spot features ahead of the art. How else are you meant to show the person you’re trying to bed that your only interests aren’t just drinking and fornicating?

And for you people that pretend to absolutely love Yinka Shonibare’s work, and you’d never miss one of his shows… don’t think we didn’t hear you say last weekend, “hmmm we need to do something cultural soon.”


So you’ve now arrived at the gallery on a mild Saturday afternoon, you feel fantastic because all your friends are drunk at bottomless brunch, but check you, you’re above that. Camera at the ready, Instagram Story primed, get that content captured because if it’s not on social media did you really go?

And all around you at the exhibition are your equals, viewing the exhibition behind the lens, not a flying f*** given about what is being shown. Because ultimately, at the end of the day, when push really does come to shove, you’re cultured / trendy / refined / well-educated / sophisticated… and in your chest you know it.

But times are changing and we can spot you when you’re fronting, doing the most at an exhibition. We know who’s there for real and who’s here for the gram.

So here’s a few steps to help you look like a serious art goer next time you’re at an exhibition, whether alone, with friends, or on a date:

  1. Spend a ridiculously long amount of time focussing on a seemingly uninteresting painting / sculpture / installation – this will make people think that you really get art. And if you’re on a date… 10 points, your date now thinks you’re deep.

  2. Don’t check your phone until you’re at least 30 mins through the exhibition – fight off every urge in your body, boring as the exhibition is, but this will affirm your status as a serious person to be reckoned with.

  3. Study the brochure / guide thoroughly, and pretend to reference it when looking at certain pieces – people will realise that you’re contextualising what you’re looking at and will think “hmmm, s/he definitely knows about art.”

  4. Don’t finish too soon. Yes, it may be horrendously dull but then everyone will realise that you don’t get it – spend just enough time to let people know that you’re well engaged, but not over doing it

  5. 4b. if the art is too painful to bear, walk ridiculously slowly as this will help kill the time.

  6. Don’t put your hands behind your back, that’s too pretentious and only for boring old white people.

  7. Approach the art with an air of nonchalance. Nothing here affects you too much, but equally it doesn’t bore you – a true art fan.

  8. Dress cool, just slightly above what’s required, but not too cool. If you do too much people will see you’re trying too hard and they’ll know you’re a fake.

  9. If there’s a buying sheet, take a look at it briefly but don’t over indulge. Remember, you’re a regular at these things and the plain white 30cm x 30xcm square going for half a million is totally normal.

  10. And lastly, in a quiet room, when no-one is looking and you have enough time, go get that snap for the gram.

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