Museum Hack at the de Young

“Imagine your drunk best friend,” said Casey, ” crossed with a well-researched museum docent.” So described the kind of tone promised by Museum Hack in its alternative, modern museum tours. I was excited to test out one of these “Un-Highlights” tours when they offered me a pair of media tickets. Granted, I kind of love traditional, nerdy museum-going; but I’m all for making museums more accessible in the modern world. Museum Hack started at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and has only recently begun to give tours here in San Francisco’s de Young Museum of Fine Art. So I grabbed my friend Whitney, and we headed over on a Sunday afternoon to see the museum anew.

Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco

Casey was a great tour guide, striking a nice balance of education, enthusiasm, and entertainment.

Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco

The tour was a blend of behind-the-scenes stories about certain pieces and little games/tasks we would play as a group.

Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco

One of our tasks: take a photo of someone who looks like they’d be great to party with. My submissions below!

Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco

Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco

After going through “Art of the Americas,” we headed outside and visited the James Turrell Skyspace in the sculpture garden. We even learned some fun acoustic tricks behind this installation. You’ll have to visit the de Young with me (or take your own Museum Hack tour) to experience the effects yourself.

Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco

Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco

Back inside and upstairs, we spent some time with the colonialists.
Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco

My pick for a character that resonated with me. This spoke to my old lady soul. And in the Pacific Islands gallery, this giant feather headdress totally caught my eye.

Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco

Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco

At the conclusion of our tour, Whitney and I quickly checked out some of the special exhibits: On The Grid: Textiles and Minimalism.

Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco

And the Frank Stella Retrospective.

Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour at the DeYoung San Francisco

So what did I think of the Museum Hack tour?

  1. I had a great time on the tour overall. I love the idea of a fun, modern take on museums and am 100% in favor of making museums more accessible to the modern public. However, a lot of what Museum Hack says is geared toward people who normally hate museums. whereas I kind of already love them, so it made me wonder if I was really their ideal client. On the plus side, I really appreciated getting to spend time in the galleries that I’d normally fly by (all those ancient artifacts, meh). It was nice to slow down and hear some of the stories behind those pieces that I usually ignore. But on the minus side, I’m not sure I’d normally pay the full $49 price tag of the tour since I do rather enjoy the solo museum-going experience as well.
  2. Our tour group happened to only be 4 people. I definitely think it could have been more interactive and dynamic if we had more people. 8-10 perhaps. But our tour guide kept up the energy and enthusiasm, and it was still fun!
  3. Other than the Un-Highlights tour, Museum Hack also offers a “Badass Bitches” feminist tour of the museum. We got little glimpses of it on our tour too, but that is definitely next on my list to check out.

Check out Museum Hack for yourself! They also give tours in NYC, DC, and Chicago.

Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco but often traveling and working around the world. See more of her museum, opera, and symphony adventures under #awculturetime on instagram and view more of her professional work at annawu.com.

Comments

comments