Museum Hack: Making Museum Tours Entertaining, Even Sexy

Photo challenges, social sharing, and drinking games. Say what?

Much like how college lectures can desperately shout “make-over!” as students leisurely browse Facebook instead of ferociously taking notes, Museum Hack heard tour visitors’ cries and re-did the traditional monotonous museum tour. The startup company, which currently does private tours of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History, engages visitors with photo challenges as well as hilarious, salacious, and often unusual stories about the museum’s legendary archives. Expect a lot of cool “fun facts” that you would most likely hear on Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

artnet News attended a private tour of the Met with Museum Hack, and suffice it to say, it was what the website promised: renegade tour guides telling stories to keep you engaged in an awesome, unconventional way.

The Temple of Dendur

The first stop we took was at an easily missed blue hippo named William, who is the unofficial mascot of the Met Museum. The Temple of Dendur was next, with loads of fun facts to hear about. The temple was gifted to the US from Egypt, and the two museums, the Smithsonian and the Met, were duking it out to see who would have the opportunity to exhibit the rare artifact. Since JFK was in his presidency, the Kennedys thought it most appropriate to have the temple in Washington, DC. However the Smithsonian’s proposal to exhibit the temple (since it had some restrictions) “sucked” and the Met museum was awarded the honor, but first agreeing to place it in the north side of the museum so Jackie Kennedy could see it through her Upper East Side pied à terre.

A staff favorite led the tour to again, an easily missed, German 17th-century automated gold object, Diana and the Stag, that was in fact used for a drinking game. The gilded stag’s body is entirely hollow, which allows for alcohol to be poured in. Once the machine is winded up, its concealed wheels will run freely until it stops before a player at the table.

The Robert Lehman Collection

Another very interesting wing we visited was Robert Lehman’s collection, which was bequeathed to the museum upon his death in 1969, however it took some convincing of the finance guru since his stipulations were that he wanted his artworks exhibited in his 54th street townhouse. Since the museum could not physically move his townhouse, they built an entirely new wing that housed rooms which were exactly replicated from his brownstone, down to its navy blue corduroy couch.

Although high-fiving people you just met can make you feel like a super-dork, Museum Hack tours are definitely the most entertaining and truly unconventional museum tours out there.

Purchase Museum Hack Tour tickets here.

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