Museum Security

I've been trying to my homework and just today I read that the museums will possibly not allow backpacks? Correct or ? We were planning on my husband carrying the back pack with our umbrellas,water bottles, lunch,etc as we head out for the day. I have a small crossover purse. Now I'm wondering if a back pack is the way to go? Ideas. Thanks.

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
7430 posts

I find carrying as few things as possible during sightseeing very comfortable. I never lug around bags, only what will fit in my jeans pocket. But a lot of museums have lockers or will store small day bags at the coat check.

Posted by Angela
Sammamish, WA
403 posts

It sort of depends on where you are going. Some museums allow backpacks, some don't. If they don't allow them, some sort of bag/coat check is almost always available. These are often free (or a tiny charge) and easy to use. Have done so many times. We have found that a large women's purse or tote bag is often given a pass but anything that looks like a backpack must be checked, even if it's smaller than the tote bag! If you have specific museums in mind, you can post them to get more specific information.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12663 posts

It is not completely uniform but the answer is yes. Backpacks are not allowed but they have an area for checking. We have never had a problem with theft or lost bag. Don't leave any valuables in the bag is a good practice but don't think anyone is interested in your lunch.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4006 posts

And MY experience over the years is that both my husband and I have carried backpacks into every nearly museum we've ever visited, and that's a bunch of museums! There are well-known exceptions that are covered in RS' guidebooks, but maybe it's the size of our bags...we use either RS' Civita backpacks or something similar. I guess we didn't look like we were going to knock over Winged Victory. The few times we were required to check our bags, we could transfer valuables to a purse or pocket. If you're bringing your bag in - hide water bottles (and sometimes cameras - if they don't want photos taken; this is a big reason we've been required to check bags, but I'm not leaving a camera at the checked bags desk). But be prepared - sometimes the sign says 'backpacks OK', but you're required to check them, and other times it's 'NO backpacks!', but you get waved through...

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4721 posts

Also, many museums have lockers for your coats, backpacks, and anything else that they either don't allow you to take in, or that you don't want to carry around. These lockers usually require a €1 or €2 coin to lock. But, don't worry - you get your coin back when you unlock them! Just be sure to remove your camera and guidebook from your bag before checking the bag.

Posted by Rose
922 posts

Where are these lockers that give your coin back when you open them? Never happened to me in any museum.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4721 posts

>>Where are these lockers that give your coin back when you open them? Never happened to me in any museum.<< You must not have looked. I can't recall the last time that a museum locker kept my coin after I opened it. However, the coin return is often hard to see, unless you know to look for it (it's inside the door). I'm sure lots of people miss it, and the museums are making a good haul on these "abandoned" coins.

Posted by Rose
922 posts

I don't use museum lockers often but did recently in Amsterdam because I needed to shed some layers between outside and inside. I now feel really dumb that I didn't pay attention to the coin return. It's not a big deal if my Euro or whatever supports the museum, but it's one more of those little things missed by not paying close attention. Thanks, Harold!

Posted by Bets
2782 posts

No backpacks is pretty standard in the US too. The reason is the possibility of knocking the backpack into something you when you turn. Some places in the States let you keep it if you wear it only on one shoulder. Ouch.

Posted by Shelley
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
257 posts

Wow. Thanks everyone. I think we will just plan around this then. Paris- The Louvre , St Chapelle, Notre Dame, London. Various museums.
What do others use for the extras that I mentioned? Thanks

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4721 posts

Shelley, I do exactly what you proposed. I take a messenger bag when I'm out and about, with the kinds of items you mentioned, and check it when I go to museums (even if not required, it's much nicer not to have to lug it around). A backpack or large purse works too.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3174 posts

Do not bring any kind of knife to St. Chapelle - It is in a secure facility and they will confiscate knives. As others have said, ALL major museums will have lockers and/or a bag check, whether bags are allowed or not. If it's not allowed, you check it or store it, not a big deal at all.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
5647 posts

I've never had a problem checking a bag and getting it back intact. Some museums will give you an opaque small plastic bag to take in with you; I usually put my wallet, camera, water bottle in that. Messenger bags are okay. Sometimes I really prefer to walk the miles of museum corridors without five pounds of stuff on my back.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5379 posts

Wearing a small messenger bag is preferable to a back pack any day, as it is easier to get to your items without taking it off and putting it back on, 100 times a day. So, your small crossover purse is going to be best. You can ask at each museum if it is too big. I just put my bag in the lockers, as noted, they take a coin, usually 1 euro for a small locker or 2 euro for a large one. Pretty sure the museums aren't checking the slots each day for coins. Whoever uses the locker next will probably take the coin with them when they are finished with the locker.

Posted by Kelly
St Petersburg Florida
951 posts

Back packs are more comfortable but my messenger bag could carry more and could be allowed in most places my back pack wasn't. The shoulder strap had a pad but its not enough when you wear it for 8-9 hours. I am sure not convinced that one kind of bag is better than the other. Some places allow back pack but you have to carry it or wear it in the front. As most posters have already stated, most museums have lockers or a bag check; sometimes it is nice to unload so you can walk around.

Posted by Shelley
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
257 posts

Thanks a lot everyone. It's great to know this information ahead of time. We can think of adjusting our plans now instead of a surprise over there. Might just try to use the backpack on travel days. Or store it. Easy enough and like others said. Not carrying it around would be good too.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7866 posts

I almost always have a light daypack with me. We carry basic needs for the day, extra camera battery, rain shell, sweater, plastic fork, small swiss army knife, suntan lotion, lip balm, etc. (we load up each morning, anticipating our needs for the day). Museums will each have their own policy. The Smithsonian, here in DC, allows you to carry bags but inspects them at the door. The British Museum, in London, doesn't allow bags but has a free bag/coat check. Rosenborg, in Copenhagen, doesn't allow bags but offers lockers that give your coin back when you retrieve your bag. I've also been to museums where they don't give you a second look as you walk in with your bag. I wouldn't worry too much. Any museum that doesn't allow backpacks will have some way to accommodate your bag during your visit. You are far from the first person who has arrived carrying a daypack.

Posted by Nancy
London, UK
168 posts

Re: British Museum - yes there is a coat check there but no, it is not free!!!

Posted by Mira
333 posts

Yes, many times backpacks aren't allowed. Same as in many museums in the US & Canada. There is often a check room or lockers, for a fee. We use a messenger bag - cross body - to carry such things. It's not huge, and it feels more secure than a backpack to me. I use backpack luggage, easier on planes and trains, but for a day-pack I prefer a messenger bag. Then no need to mess with check rooms, etc. But if you want to use the backpack, either use the check rooms or practice carrying it on your front or under your arm for the time you'll spend in a museum :)

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
4915 posts

I carry a canvas tote bag in my backpack. Then I can put my valuables (such as they are), water bottle, camera accessories, etc., in it when I check my backpack. St. Chapelle is different. The entrance is also the entrance to the law courts, with one security screening for both. That's why they are liable to confiscate items that would not be allowed into the courthouse.

Posted by Shelley
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
257 posts

Thank you all. We are looking into the Crossover bag and think that might work just as well. Have to discuss it more with my husband for his thoughts though.