Museums often have a quiet, reverential feeling to them on your first visit. Many are also large and expansive with a variety of specialty exhibits and artifacts. Getting the most out of the experience requires a bit of planning, and the most enjoyable museum experiences are enlightening without the need to spend hours walking through every floor or exhibit. Regardless of their size or subject matter, museums are valuable resources of science, history, art and knowledge. They also provide excellent ways of immersing yourself in a subject matter that’s meaningful to you.

The following tips will help you move past any feelings of being overwhelmed and take full advantage of all the educational fun on your next trip to the best LA museums.

Plan and book ahead if possible

The majority of LA museums now allow you to buy your admission tickets ahead on their websites and even have virtual previews of their latest exhibits. Buying your tickets online will save you time that would’ve been spent waiting in long lines during peak hours. Museums with specialty, limited-time exhibits often charge separate admission, and the same applies to subject matter films shown in museums’ large-screen movie theaters. Souvenirs from museum gift shops also cost extra, another factor for your museum visit budget.

Look for special museum events

Many LA museums have events each month for different age groups, such as free admission for kids under a certain age or even adults-only evenings once or twice per month. These events are additional fun ways to learn new things and meet new people who share similar interests in the same abject matter.

While you’re at the museum

During your planned LA museum visit, you’ll want to be engaged with the curiosities and exhibits that interest you. Keep your cell phone use to a minimum and be sure to follow any rules regarding photography inside the museum. While it might be tempting to look up more information online using your phone, you can most often learn more by reading through exhibit literature and asking questions of museum volunteers. Many of them have completed training in detailed knowledge of the artifacts and will be able to provide even more insight.

If you enjoy writing or drawing, it can be fun to take a notebook and write or sketch out your impressions of the exhibits that appeal to you the most. This is an excellent way to share what you think with your friends and family members who are also interested.

Another great way to enhance your museum experience in Los Angeles is to take advantage of guided tours, many of which are available at low or even no additional cost. The information and detail you’ll get from a tour guide will teach you more than you’d learn from exploring on your own. Having a guide narrate the history or science behind each exhibit will give you more context, and tours most often end with additional time to ask the guide questions. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn even more and to give museum staff members to talk further about their subject matter.

Overall then, planning your visit ahead of time and taking advantage of extras will help you have the most enjoyable experience on your next museum visit. Take advantage of guided and self-guided tours, choose the exhibits that intrigue you the most, and continue the discussion after your visit.

Quality most often takes precedence over quantity when it comes to the time you spend in LA museums, and engagement with what interests you is also a key to enjoying them the most.