Another awesome success — Museum Hack and Nick Gray

August 27, 2013 by Joshua
in Art, Blog, Creativity, Entrepreneurship, Leadership

An awesome side benefit of writing daily is that awesome people find you. Recently a guy wrote to tell me he liked my writing and invited me to participate in what seemed like a crazy project, but turned out to be one of the most awesome things I’ve done in New York City in a long time.

And I’ve done a lot of awesome things in New York City.

It’s an amazing entrepreneurial story too — the kind we love, which is why I, who endorse entrepreneurship and believe opportunities are everywhere, am sharing it with you. He started doing something that he enjoyed, for fun and personal challenge, and shared what he loved and got good at (another example of how “Sharing what you love improves your life“). Others found value in it and he realized he had to start a business out of it.

Now his project is growing and getting widespread attention, he can’t keep it secret (Vogue Magazine is covering it this month), he’s hiring, he’s expanding to other museums and cities, he’s professionalizing, and people keep wanting more.

Who is this man and what is his project?

His name is Nick Gray. He calls his project Museum Hack — “a highly interactive, subversive, fun, non-traditional museum tour.” As his site says:

This is not your grandma’s museum tour. What we offer is a fun, group-oriented VIP museum adventure. You will be entertained… and learn a bit along the way. We strive to offer a brand new view of the Met, one that you wouldn’t get by simply visiting the museum on your own. Not affiliated or endorsed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

When he says highly interactive he means it. My group of about a dozen people walked and ran around the museum, laughed, studied and presented backgrounds on art pieces to each other, heard histories and anecdotes, and got to meet each other.

He means subversive too. While respecting the museum, the art, and the history of both, he and his guides subvert the stuffiness and boredom people associate with art and museums. Painters and sculptors didn’t create their art to bore people or make them memorize names and dates. This tour connects the art to your life. The guides entertain you.

He means fun too. We really did run at times. We laughed over and over. Everyone in the group met each other. He had more than one tour that night and we merged groups. I went on an evening tour on a night the Met stays open late and he knew the cafeteria stayed open even later, where we had tables set for us so we all got to meet more.

Though I felt lucky to participate in something so cool so early, I found everyone on the tour even cooler than me in that regard. My group was filled with trend setters and tuned-in people.

Through it all, we learned about the museum and the art, and I’ve been to the Met many times, including on guided tours. He and his guides gave a brief presentation about the museum. Of course no one can cover the whole Met in a day, for that matter a week or month. Might as well enjoy yourself while seeing the most fun parts.

The craziest coincidence is that when he wrote me he hadn’t read any posts saying where I lived. He didn’t know I lived in New York. Turns out we live a block away from each other. So we’ve become friends. Also coincidentally, two women in my group own an amazing gourmet pizza place called Wild a few blocks from me I’ve already eaten at three times (have I mentioned I love the West Village?).

I got the feeling every tour group has amazing people like that in it — especially since it’s still rapidly expanding.

What will come next? I’m curious to find out how it grows to other museums and cities and professionalizes. In the meantime, I recommend the tour. Or invite him to your city to give a tour of your museum (his site tells you how). Here’s the site again:

EDIT: The Wall Street Journal covered Museum Hack the day after I did (here’s the link to that story), so it keeps getting bigger (note I scooped the Journal). Nick also got profiled in Lifehacker.

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