As we continuously try to provide engaging educational experiences for the world through our classes, we find it important to step outside of our site’s boundaries and into the shoes of learners. Recently the Skillshare team took a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art alongside the much buzzed about, guerilla-style Museum Hack tour. While we looked forward to seeing some of the best pieces and artifacts the museum had to offer, we soon found out that a night with Museum Hack meant a whole lot more than walking through exhibits. After meeting up with our guides for the evening we were whisked away to the exquisite Met rooftop garden that had just opened for the season. We enjoyed some beverages and gazed at the silhouettes of the skyline poking through the evening fog.
Though the rooftop was quite mesmerizing, we were quickly reminded of the task at hand: this was a night for learning and adventure. We broke off into smaller groups, engaged in a pre-game pro-museum cheer that would make Al Pacino proud, and set off to tackle some of the Met’s most interesting and peculiar exhibits.
Over the next two hours the guides illuminated various works of art with stories of sexual deviance, cannibalism, and financial coups (who knew one could find all of this content outside of HBO?). While a lot of the works were familiar, the backstories were anything but. This was certainly not the type of information found in art history textbooks.
Our three groups all had slightly different tours, but a shared highlight included the trip through the Musical Instruments of East Asia and Africa rooms. The Museum Hack’s Musical Director is an expert on the subject and was able to provide examples of various sounds of instruments (via his iPhone). He demonstrated the skill required to play the instruments when played in the traditional rhythm. Clearly this was a whole lot better than just looking at the instruments behind glass!
The musical interlude was not the only interactive aspect of the tour. Along the way, we engaged in photo competitions that allowed us to get creative and respectfully poke fun at areas of the museum. We definitely enjoyed the challenge. (Don’t worry, no Chrises were harmed in the taking of this photograph.)
Rather than trying to see everything possible, the Museum Hack team curated an in depth, interactive adventure for a handful of exhibits, exposing controversial secrets, shocking facts, and fascinating details along the way. As a team, we learned a ton about the museum and it’s collections, but more importantly we picked up some valuable pointers from our guides on how to take educational initiatives and make them irresistibly fun and engaging. Needless to say it will be hard for any of us to attend a normal museum tour ever again thanks to the wonderfully passionate and knowledgeable Museum Hack team!