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What is the social etiquette when visiting a UK museum?

Question asked by Derly Barreto from Colombia

Dummies guide to BritainOUR BRIT SAYS:

A trip to the museum can be a great day out, especially as most museums in the UK are FREE! And while there are no set rules about how to behave in a museum it is easy to spot a social system and correct etiquette in place. So to help you out we have split it into the main ‘un-written’ rules of visiting a museum in the UK:

Noise: We Brits treat museums a lot like libraries. Just as you respect the quietness of a library so that people can comfortably read, the museum is the same. We like to talk in hushed whispers and will definitely fire off a dirty glare at anyone being too loud. The only exceptions to this rule are the new interactive zones in most museums, where you are more than welcome to noisily have fun.

Queuing: The Brits may not love to queue but they respect the system of queuing and happily form a queue to keep social order. A museum is no different. You will need to queue to get in if security checks are required. If there are certain exhibits that many people are interested in you will notice people forming a queue to have their turn in front of the exhibit. Respect the queue and the Brits will respect you!

Don't touch: Often you cannot touch exhibits, unless it specifically says you can touch and interact with it. By touching exhibits you run the risk of being asked to leave!

Photographs: As much as a picture of you and that ape at the Natural History Museum may make a perfect profile picture, don’t jump in and take a photograph straight away. All museums in the UK have signs telling you whether it is okay to take photographs or not. Some may allow you to take photos but you will have to switch off the flash. It is really important to do as the signs ask because often the flash will damage the artefact or exhibited item.

Donations: You will notice every British museum has donation points throughout the building. This is because entry to the museum is free, but it does cost money to run the museum and to do other projects, such as child education programs. It is good etiquette to leave a donation as thanks for the time you have spent in the museum. It can be anything from one pound to 20 pounds, it is a personal choice!

That brings us to the end of our museum etiquette guide!

Remember if you see something confusing about British society or culture just send your question to with your name, age and nationality and we will answer it for you.

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