Modern Cycling and the Museum Experience

Setting aside the obvious ‘building’ vs.’vehicle’ distinction, the experience of modern cycling is very similar to the museum experience. The combination of physicality, mental challenge, and a factor of enjoyment are shared by both.

Free Admission Days Inspire Museum Trips

museum |myo͞oˈzēəm| (noun) a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.

-museum, as defined by ICOM (International Council of Museums)

Setting aside the obvious ‘building’ vs.’vehicle’ distinction, the experience of modern cycling is very similar to the museum experience. The combination of physicality, mental challenge, and a factor of enjoyment are shared by both. Also, the level of enjoyment is proportional to the effort put into the endeavor. They are force multipliers of experience, that is to say, the work you put towards the art of riding a bicycle and the study you put in while exploring a museum will both reward you beyond what you would get for alternative applications of effort.

If you go to a museum, and thoughtfully examine exhibits, gleaning the knowledge that a curator has prepared for you, you will come away with information and ideas that you forever will take with you, build upon, and learn from. Similarly with cycling, if you put the time into riding regularly, improving your endurance and stamina, you will unlock a fundamental freedom of being able to travel under your own power- seeing your local community at a speed that allows you to thoughtfully observe your neighborhood. This observation leads to a richer perception of the world around you. Searching for meaning or understanding in a museum may be too arduous for many in our world of instant gratification, but bicyclists are masters of delayed gratification and will benefit from applying the same attitudes to developing their minds as they do to the finish of a ride.

Underlying the experience of visiting museums is the curating of exhibited objects by the museum’s curator. The museum curator organizes “the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment” and adds elements of education and study to improve the experience and communicate knowledge. The humanity of this curated experience is what, if done well, transmutes to the participant in an organized way. This is very similar to the design of a modern bicycle, as it too is a collection of objects thoughtfully assembled with the user experience and enjoyment in mind. As with museums, there are many collections of parts that create many different experiences, all interesting in their own ways. Some are better than others, some will change your life and others will come and go, but the only way to know is to form your own opinion through your own experience. To that end, we submit five bicycles and five museums for your consideration. All would be excellent candidates to experience the passing of time in the company of others, but can be pleasantly enjoyed solo.

Park and Ride

Beyond the more existential benefits of cycling and museums, the experience of cycling to a museum is pragmatic as well. The free part of museums usually doesn’t apply to parking with many charging exorbitant rates. Park near and ride to the museum, or better yet, ride from home.

Dress-Down to Dress-Up

Bike cleats are noisy and scratch floors, consider riding unclipped. Leave the lycra at home and wear comfortable and athletic clothing. A small, lightweight backpack or messenger bag is ideal and a rolled-up change of clothes allows for the most versatility for those that refuse to ride in anything but full kit.

Bring a Lock

You don’t want to worry about your bike not being there when you get back. The ABUS Granit 640 we reviewed in issue #135 would make a fine choice.

Pack a Lunch

Enjoy your provisions in the parks that surround these landmarks, a destination all their own.

Take Notes

Similar to stretching for cycling, taking notes makes the most of your museum experience. Walking around the rarified air of human achievement and natural wonder is very inspiring and you’ll want a place to jot down these thoughts. Sometimes, a list of more questions is the result, but these are all opportunities for exploration and learning. – CR

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