A few Saturdays ago, I took a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for something a little different than my usual wander-and-ponder. I was invited to take a VIP tour by Museum Hack, a company that operates tours at major museums in several American cities and prides itself on offering non-traditional, subversive, and even snarky looks at the art and the institutions. Brett and I decided to take part in a Saturday evening adventure, and we both came away with a few new thoughts about a museum we’ve been to many times before.
The tour began with our guides introducing themselves, and warning the audience that this was not a provenance-and-brushstrokes kind of thing. They emphasized the unorthodox nature of what we were about to hear and see, perhaps even laying it on a little thick. It was all in good fun though, and I’d imagine it varies by guide just how big an emphasis is placed on this style.
We started in the Classical wing with looks at a few Greek and Roman pieces. One of the major features of the Museum Hack tours is that the guides choose just a dozen or so pieces to focus on throughout the evening, rather than trying to take you through an entire wing or period or do a general overview. Our guides asked us to look at just two statues that were similar, and told us about how the Romans looked at Greek statues made of bronze, decided they were worth preserving but wanted the metal for weaponry, and so made marble copies before melting down the originals.
We got a few more fun facts in the Arms and Armor Court, including the story of an eccentric fellow named Bashford Dean who donated his entire collection of medieval armor to the museum on the condition that he be allowed to care for it personally, and take pieces out to wear around the city whenever he chose. After that, we continued on to the American Wing, where we were asked to choose a statue that spoke to us the most and pose with it. I chose the lampposts because I’m a Narnia girl, while Brett went for the bears, of course.
There was a short break just before 8pm, about two hours into the tour, for wine and sodas in one of the cafeterias. We asked the guides about their jobs, and they told us that the audition process is to perform as a guide, choosing the pieces you like and sharing stories about them. They also mentioned that every guide is allowed to focus on whatever they enjoy most. So one guide in New York will take you to see the baseball cards, while another will bring you to the one case of Native American artifacts in the museum. It’s very personalized, so no two tours are alike.
We were told at the start that we should each take a photo of the museum piece which gave us the most “party vibes” and at the end of the tour, we’d all share and the winner would get a prize. Brett and I picked a carved chessboard because according to him, board games are a major party 🙂 We didn’t win, but the girl who did received a hippopotamus eraser from the gift shop, which was cute. Overall, I would recommend the tours to anyone who wants a fun look at an institution that, while I adore it, can definitely be imposing, or overwhelming when you try to do it all. They offer not just evening VIP tours, but daytime tours for the public, family focused adventures, and even bachelorette parties. Now THAT seems cool!
I was offered a complimentary tour for myself and a guest by Museum Hack. I was not otherwise compensated for this post, and all opinions herein are solely my own.
Have you ever been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art?
Do you prefer museum tours or wandering around on your own?
Any thoughts on Museum Hack?
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11 thoughts on “Touring the Met with Museum Hack”
The tour does sound like fun – like a way to experience art a little differently.
I love the idea to only focus on a couple of pieces. Museums can be so overwhelming if you aim to look at everything. Pre-baby I loved visiting museums just for an hour or two and just wandered through a tiny part of the collection.
Yes to museums having a huge potential to be really overwhelming. I think going with a guide is an awesome idea, and I think it’s neat that they all focus on different things. I’ve never been to any of the museums in NYC, but I’d love to go someday.
I’ve lived in NYC almost ten years and somehow have never been to the Met! For some reason I always graviate towards the Natural History Museum or the Guggenheim when I want to go to a museum. I defintely need to plan a trip there soon.
We have soooo many museums here in Paris that I have been to too many times. I would definitely enjoy the Museum hack. A different way of looking at art and learning something quirky.
YES museums, especially the huge ones can be really overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to start. O_O I think that’s where it comes in really handy to have guides to explain things to us. That story about the guy who wanted to wear his armor occasionally… Wow, that’s very unique.
I LOVE museums. When Ryan and I went to London we spent about 2 hours in the National Gallery and 5 hours (yes, 5) in the British Museum. I’ve never been to NYC but the MET and Guggenheim are on my list to see when I do visit!
This sounds like a great idea! Not only for those who are overwhelmed by the big museums but also people who don’t know a lot about art and don’t really know what they should be looking for (me!).
I’m torn on guided tours – while the structure-lover in me would go for it, my independent introverted self resists the idea of having to be part of a group that long. I like the uniqueness of this tour but I think the introverted me would win – I like to be alone with my own thoughts when I’m perusing a museum.
So do I 🙂
Sounds like fun! I get overwhelmed with sightseeing, so a guide would help, but sometimes I like to go through at my own pace!
Snarky looks at art! I’m all about it. I’ve never been a huge art museum fan, but that sounds pretty cool. The audition process the guides go through sounds fun, as well!
You’re pretty lucky to live so near the Metropolitan Museum of Art!
Are you an art person?
I loved this tour! Museum Hacks’ Met Museum tour is a great time. I’m glad you enjoyed it!