|Ali Kemp, Museum Hack guide|
She was — the woman in the painting, not Kemp — one of thousands of naked ladies sprawled on chaises I've tramped past in a lifetime of vigorous museum going. But I can't remember ever pausing to look closely and think about what I was seeing, such as the dog in the corner of the painting.
"Now there's this little dog, which seems innocent enough," she said. "But in renaissance Italy, nothing is as it seems, and that dog symbolizes that she is ... loose, basically."
I knew there is an Art Institute — I've been a member for years. And I knew there are tours — groups of foreigners trekking after someone holding a small flag. But it never occurred to me that there are also organized gonzo tours, not until Museum Hack invited me to tag along and I thought, "Why not?"
"We lead sassy and subversive tours at The Art Institute," explained Cody Nailor, a publicist for the tours. "These aren’t your grandma’s tours."
Indeed not. Museum Hack offers "Drag Tours"— art tours led by cross-dressing men —"Badass Bitches" tours, focusing on feminism and the one I was on, the "Un-Highlights Tour." In addition to Chicago, it operates in New York, San Francisco, Washington and Los Angeles.
The Art Institute allows this?
"We do allow Museum Hack and other various groups to conduct their programs at the museum so long as they follow our security and visitor protocols," said Anna E.. Miller, a museum public affairs coordinator.
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