Audio Tours for the Met: The Unauthorized Alternative

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Lee Siegel,  Slate Magazine’s art critic, has developed a series of fantastic podcasts as Slate’s Unauthorized Alternatives to the traditional museum audio tours.

Slate recently shared one on the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can download these podcasts as mp3s, and take them with you to the museum for a semi-self guided tour. (ZIP file here) The tours give the back stories to specific pieces, while covering some of the most overrated and underrated works in the gallery.

The Alternative Met Tour consists of 11 mp3s exploring a series of different paintings. You can download a map of the gallery to help you find the paintings. Slate has gathered all the files together in a zipped folder, which you can download here.

“Our aim, beginning with Lee Siegel’s tour of the Met, is to create an experience that blends the irreverence and honesty of the DIY tours with the professionalism of the official versions. And ours is short—you should be able to make it through the Modern Art Gallery in a little over 20 minutes. So, try it on your lunch break, New Yorkers.”

– Andy Bowers“Introducing Slate Audio Tours”, Slate

An antithesis to boring, one dimensional audio tours, Siegel’s podcasts offer his professional opinion on whether various art pieces are over or under rated. He wants to encourage people to start forming their own opinions on the art in the collections. Not run to the most famous pieces, just because they are well known, but rather, to take some time to find art that really enthrals them, inspires them. 

“The inflated, the overrated paintings come to you with the artists names with the artists reputation— you look beyond them and they don’t yield anything intrinsic to themselves. The great underrated paintings draw you in. They make you look to them as if for the first time and speak to you on their own terms.”

– Lee Siegel

Slate is a  general-interest web publication that offers witty analysis and commentary about politics, news, business, technology, and culture. 

Lee Siegel is a New York writer and cultural critic who has written for Harper’s, The Nation, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Slate.

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