Mark Rosen sees a link between foodie and art culture, and is trying to forge it with unconventional museum tours, reports Laura Neilson in The Wall Street Journal (8/29/13). "You typically don’t go to a fancy restaurant, study the menu for three seconds, order everything, gorge yourself and roll out the door," he says. Yet when they go to, say, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "almost everybody … tries to see everything in four hours or less, Instagrams the hell out of the place and leaves, remembering nothing."
Mark’s approach, a tour of the Met known as Museum Hack, is designed like a "tasting menu" that’s customized based on "guests’ museum diets: who’s been to the Met before, who’s a first-timer, and their likes and dislikes." Mark didn’t invent the Museum Hack – his boss, Nick Gray, came up with the idea. Originally, Nick gave tours just to his friends, and then his friends’ friends, and then he set up a website, which went viral, "with registrations exceeding 1,000." At that point, he quit his job and turned it into a business.
The tour lasts two hours, covers about 1.25 miles, and "gravitates to overlooked pieces or intriguing facts about the more celebrated ones." For example, tourists will learn that "the tiny dog bed in a rococo-decorated room belonged to Marie-Antoinette’s Thisbe, a papillon she carried with her to the guillotine" (the dog was spared). The tour is also interspersed with "fatigue-busters" such as pausing to take group photos, and "pairing up to discuss individual art works." The Museum Hack costs $39 (the museum itself offers free tours, with admission, and "doesn’t object to the Museum Hack").