We love to visit museums, so when the team at Museum Hack invited me to try out one of their “renegade” museum tours, my interest was piqued. Museum Hack’s irreverent tours are currently available at a variety of museums in Chicago, New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. That said, their only current Chicago option is the Art Institute of Chicago. Despite being a world-class museum and an international crowd-pleaser, it’s not on my list of personal favorites. What can I say? I prefer the science and technology stuff. (However, I was wowed by the Denver Art Museum on a visit last summer.)
At any rate, now that I’m out of hibernation, I figured it was worth a try. Hubs and I received complimentary tours, which are normally $39 each. It should be noted that the tour fee is in addition to general museum entry, so it will make for a pricey day if you’re not a member or on City Pass or some other discounted admission ticket. We were able to sneak out tour in just before our membership expired. Score!
The Museum Hack site explains the Art Institute of Chicago tour like this:
This museum is f***ing awesome. So we hacked it. We offer a high-energy, group-oriented tour experience certain to keep you entertained and teach you a bit along the way.
This description seems apt given the number of times our friendly, energetic guide, Elise, dropped f-bombs during our tour. But they way she dropped them, like when discussing Picasso and his mistresses, seemed fitting. It was all in good spirit. She had a solid read of our group and no one took offense. Also, she was clearly educated on the pieces she discussed. Elise was also flexible, taking us through time periods and genres to visit various pieces. Outsiders tended to cluster around our group as she or co-leader Collin animatedly explained the quirky history of a given piece of art.
The piece below, Emblem of the God Shiva with Serpent Base, apparently has two competing backstories, one of which clearly evoked the phallic nature of this statue of the Hindu god.
We enjoyed the lfast-paced, informative*, but whimsical tour, which exposed us to artworks across time, space, and style. Even as repeat visitors to the museum, we learned new things and experienced the art in a new building. In fact, I suspect no two Museum Hack tours are quite the same.
In addition to the Un-highlights Tour we experienced, Museum Hack offers private tours (which might be a fun way to see the museum with kids or a for a large family event) and corporate group options, including team building. For a price, their team will even help you plan the ultimate marriage proposal at the Art Institute of Chicago.
It would be nice to see the Museum Hack tour offered earlier in the day so there’s more time to explore afterward. If you’re paying the daily admission rate, you want to get your money’s worth, but if you spend hours before your tour exploring, you might have “museum fatigue” by the time your Museum Hack tour takes off.
If you’re looking for something a bit different to do around town, check out Museum Hack.
*Ever heard of a Pythagorean Cup? Neither had I until I saw one on display at the Art Institute of Chicago and Elise explained it to our group.
Please note all opinions are my own. I was not required to post about my experience.