At one of three opening night parties at the Renwick Gallery in January 1972, Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley gave a toast. “The building itself is a monument to the craftsman of yesterday. We hope to make the exhibits very stylish shows of the arts people make for themselves even in this technological age.”
And the opening parties were very stylish, indeed. However, many of the photographs do not necessarily provide good examples of the best ways to explore our museums today.
Since this time of the year (mid-March to late-July) is when Smithsonian museums are bustling with visitors, we thought showing off photographs from the Renwick Gallery's opening events alongside helpful tips might be a fun way to help visitors navigate through museums this season. But before you call the collections care police, please note that smoking in museums and other rules were quite different in 1972.
1. Please refrain from smoking in museums, including e-cigarettes.
2. Please don’t touch the collections (unless the signage invites you to, of course!).
3. Please keep any beverages far away from the objects. Most Smithsonian museums do permit bottled water!
4. Please do pose for photographs in the museum where photography is encouraged. We also love when visitors tag our museum accounts or use our hashtags on social media. This shot should get a #RenwickGallery for sure.
5. Please consider packing as lightly as you are able. The following museums require visitors to walk through metal detectors: National Air and Space Museum and its Udvar-Hazy Center, National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Museum of American History, National Museum of Natural History, National Postal Museum, and the National Museum of the American Indian.
6. Please do engage in thoughtful and respectful conversations with those in your group. Hearing visitors discuss exhibits or objects is music to our ears.
7. Avoid the crowds by arriving early on weekends and later in the day during the week. It's also best to start on the top floors of the museums and work your way down.
8. And this one might go without saying, but please don't hide in our plants.
For more helpful tips and guidelines, head to the Smithsonian's website.