Saturday, April 9, 2016

My Museum Hack Tour Experience (MET VIP Tour)

* Disclosure: I was formally invited by Museum Hack to go on there MET VIP Tour experience. However, all opinions and images are solely my own. * 

"You want a highly-academic, highbrow tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art where we stand before the great masters, contemplating their skilled use of line and form, while simultaneously placing them in the pantheon of other art historical geniuses, right?
You picked the wrong tour." - Museum Hack Website

Friday night; I had the opportunity to be part of a Museum Hack VIP Tour experience. Museum Hack is one of the many new externally founded tour initiatives that have sprung up in NYC, to the delight and discomfort of museum goers city-wide (depending on who you ask).

It was nice and chilly outside the MET last night, perfect weather for exploring its marble halls! Two hours earlier I had received a text message from Museum Hack reminding me that my tour was scheduled for 6 pm and that I should show up 15 minutes in advance to check in with the tour guides and give us time to get acquainted. It also told me that if I was running late to text the tour leader, whose number was given as well.

So I arrived at 5:46 pm, taking only seconds to get through security at the front (great news - you can bring water into the museum now!). My previous Museum Hack emails let me know that I would meet the tour guides in front of the Egyptian statue in the Main Hall, and did not need to get an admissions ticket on my own. This was well appreciated.

So, after 'signing in' with the tour leader, I was given a silver sticker with my name written on it, and my MET admissions sticker. I was then ushered over to the tour guide that would be taking care of me that night, an energetic young woman named Anna. She welcomed me and gave me a small device with headphones that would help me explore the hidden secrets of the Main Hall. This would be the highlight of my evening.

When all the tour-takers arrived, we regrouped at the base of the statue and met our second tour guide, Michelle, who was another charismatic hip chic. Both were very excited about taking our group on the tour. We were a total of seven with two tour guides to keep us interested, which is a pretty nice ratio.

There was no previously announced itinerary for the night, so we followed the guides into the Roman and Greek section of the museum, I didn't know what to expect. Now, I knew that the tour would be unorthodox (which I had high hopes for), but both guides had informed us of their lack of art history chops, so I wondered how they would approach talking about the artwork.

Anna shared with me a little about the companies history; how the founder had taken his date to the MET three years ago and had fallen in love with the museum instead. It spurred him to make this company that would create exciting tours for people to experience in the museum. When we arrived to the first piece, Michelle, our veteran tour guide, took the lead. I liked how she tried to incorporate a few facts into her dialogue, albeit being interpretive. She also related how a 4,000 year old art piece related to a recent attempt to break the internet which I thought was cool.

The guides then took turns guiding us to their favorite pieces and telling us a little background or story about them. When we came into the main sculpture garden, time was taken to talk about the lack of penises on ancient Roman statues and how a 15th century pope was partially to blame. Our guides handling of this was very tongue in cheek and humorous.

Before leaving I spied an amazing statue of a Dementor.... I mean ancient Greek bronze statue. It had been the second 'wizarding world' reference of the night (see the first one on my Instagram here!), and I couldn't help but wish I could have swung my arm around it and taken a selfie. Something you could NEVER EVER NEVER do at the MET unfortunately.  : (

I appreciated how the guides made sure that we did not get to close to the art as some of it can seem to invite a touch. Michelle and Anna were diligent trying to keep things interesting and the tour moving. We stopped a few times to do group circle activities, like answer questions about ourselves. Maybe it is my New Yorker sensibilities but I could have done without.

I have to admit walking the MET takes a toll so I took my leave as we exited the African art section. All in all, Museum Hackers is definitely a new perspective on museum tours. For those who are hard core art enthusiasts this tour may not live up to the intensity that some may desire. However, if you desire an unorthodox perspective to a museum tour that involves art, humorous anecdotes and a Kevin Hart style of delivery, Museum Hack can offer you three hour tours ranging from 59-89 dollars.  These are lively tour guides with plenty of person to person interaction. .

If you would like to know more about Museum Hack's tours and mission, feel free to visit their website here.

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