Have you ever been quietly musing over a grand artwork in a vaulted museum, letting the artist close the gap between time and space until it felt as though their brush was touching your very thoughts… and then a crowd of noisy tourists push between you and the painting?

It spoils the mood, doesn’t it? So this is the Nomadic Troglodyte’s guide for how to NOT ANNOY PEOPLE:

  1. Don’t take pictures if it says not to take pictures. I personally love to photograph informational signs. I take the knowledge home with me and re-read them to remember the impact it had on me. I’m irked when museums say no cameras, but I respect it. And going with the camera theme…
  2. If your camera makes noise, I want to kill you. I’m a photographer and I have worked with several different models, brands, and types of cameras. I remember shooting in film. Before there was a digital. So I know what I’m saying when I tell you that your camera has a menu which you can navigate to turn off any unseemly beeps or clicks. Not all sound, unless it’s a phone, but it should be as quiet as possible.
  3. Don’t use a flash unless you’re the only one there. I don’t care if it means you don’t get the shot: be a better human being. Additionally, never take a selfie if you’re in anyone’s way. If it is crowded, don’t. If people are walking past, don’t. Selfies are like hot sauce: not for everyone, some people use too much, the best is just occasionally and not very much.
  4. If there are caretakers or museum staff, be kind, be courteous, don’t take up their time if they look busy, and if they look like they have time, then you should try to ask a thoughtful question. Experts love delving into their wells of knowledge, so try to be someone who helps them do what they love. If you can’t think of something deep, ask them what their favorite part of the space is.
  5. Be aware of the people around you. If there are people praying in the church, don’t make noise. If you need to pray in the church, don’t make noise.
  6. Keep conversations quiet and gentle, even if you’re only with your group and no one else is there: respect the space. Don’t wear noisy shoes or noisy jackets.

Whether it’s a museum, a church, a graveyard, or another hallowed place, treat it with the respect its creators would want. Be gentle with old things, revere the holy, and, whatever you do, let these places touch your spirit and your soul. That’s what they were made to do.

I certainly felt that way when my parents and I stopped in Paisley, Scotland. We’d started the day in Edinburgh, navigated the unfamiliar road systems to the other side of the country, and then we flirted briefly with Glasgow before landing in Paisley. With a niece by the same name, we just had to stop to try to find some merch for the little angel.

We stopped in a store and asked the clerk where the best place for this mission might be. She suggested the museum – we didn’t even know Paisley had a museum before that moment. Off we went!

It turns out that Paisley is known for inventing the paisley pattern in cloth – has several scarves with paisleys on them, so learning about the looms, patterns, and people behind something I’d never thought about was interesting. The museum also had a small collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts, a good natural history exhibit, and a strange sort of photography exhibit. Pictures were allowed and there was practically no one else there.

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Besides, I have a serious thing for scarves and shawls, so this was a lovely place I didn’t know I needed in my life.

Then we were off to Paisley Abby, a truly hallowed hall, but I think that’s another post for another time.