Museum Hack Tour – The Art Institute of Chicago

Earlier this month on my sisters’ staycation in Chicago, three of us went on a Museum Hack tour of the Art Institute of Chicago. Think of a Museum Hack as the informal, snarky cousin of the stuffy museum tour.


Mark, our energetic tour guide, met us just beyond the museum entry point. While we waited for the roughly 15 tour participants to show he did a great job of getting to know all of us and having us get to know the others. There were high school students, museum employees, fellow bloggers, and tourists. After that we were off – power walking up the grand staircase to pause at the top by the first work of art we would examine – a window designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

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While we learned about the intention and design components behind the piece we were also given a little Frank history lesson – all of which was delivered in a fun and informative manner. The group was laughing and sharing their own thoughts as we learned about the piece. (So much better than some of those tours which you feel guilty sneezing during.)

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For each stop we were regaled with interesting facts and tidbits about the artist and work of art, without being bored by technique or lofty prose. And by quickly parading around from one piece to the next we were able to see pretty much the entire museum in warp speed without becoming overwhelmed with the number of things there are to take in.

On occasion the stops were more than just a run-through of the work of art. For example, at one point we huddled together and each came up with a dance move to illustrate the title of a painting and then had a mini dance-off. Another time we posed by statues of great ladies while Mark took our pictures and then printed us copies.

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Overall, a pretty awesome two-hour experience.

Two little warnings about the Museum Hack tour:

One: In addition to the $39 Museum Hack ticket, you still need to purchase tickets to enter the museum. That means this fun outing will cost about $65. I’d suggest going early, exploring the museum a little on your own and then doing the tour in order to make the most of your money.

Two: I’d give the tour a PG-13 rating and certainly not great for little kids. The tour guide drops swear word, an occasional f-bomb and does share some of the more torrid histories of the artists – mistresses, drunken escapades, and other debauchery.

Katy Rose
Filed In: Life