WOAH. We were featured on New York’s own FOX 5 News! Major thanks to Good Day Street Talk for having us talk about our newest tours at the American Museum of Natural History. Watch the video clip below, or read the transcript after the jump:
Lisa: Welcome back to Good Day Street Talk. I’m Lisa Evers. My next guest is Nick Gray; founder of the New York based company Museum Hack. He’s here to tell us all about the underground tour company, wait until you hear about this. Nick thanks so much for being with us, we appreciate it.
Nick: Thanks, I’m really excited. This studio is crazy; the ceilings are like 90 feet high.
Lisa: Are you already thinking about giving an underground tour of it?
Nick: I sort of want to, I’m pretty excited; when I walked in I was like whoa.
Lisa: Now tell us about this idea that you have and the programs that you offer people. Because this is crazy, you can go into the museum when it’s off hours? How does that work?
Nick: No – we don’t officially promise that we go in off hours, but when we do go in we lead these renegade private tours of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and now at the American Museum of Natural History and the tours are led by independent people, so sometimes former employees, sometimes renegade museum educators. And we tell people the fun salacious backstories and the gossip.
Lisa: So this is more like the gossip version of the museum, of what happened here, of the story behind this painting for the museum of Natural History.
Nick: That is exactly correct. We’ll tell you about the dinosaurs and the crazy facts that maybe you didn’t know.
Lisa: What made you start to do this?
Nick: I started these tours for my friends at the Met because I love the Museum and I realized that most of my friends, in New York, they didn’t really go there on a regular basis.
Lisa: Because it’s always there, we kind of take it for granted.
Nick: We take it for granted, and it becomes more of a tourist destination and so really we started this for New York City residents to go back to these awesome museums in the city and to have a relationship with the space.
Lisa: What are some of your favorite exhibits and favorite nuggets?
Nick: I love the Egyptian galleries at the Met [Who doesn’t]. I’m fascinated by the history, the Met has an encyclopedic museum but at the Natural History Museum, have you been to the gem room?
Lisa: No I haven’t.
Nick: There’s this incredible room tucked in the back, a lot of people know about it, but it’s got gems and rocks and rare gold pieces and it’s one of my favorite things.
Lisa: How do these tours work? You said they are during museum hours or after museum hours?
Nick: They are during museum hours, they are private tours. So there is usually about 6 people per guide and very small groups. And the guide customizes them based on the audience, and so he’ll ask you when the last time you were here and is there anything special you want to see today, and all the guides know the museums like the back of their hands, so they develop a custom route and they just show things that they are passionate about.
Lisa: So it sounds like they are very personalized and it’s not like one of these tours where you are just getting this same history that you could get off some audio program.
Nick: That’s absolutely correct, now the museums all give awesome free tours that you can sign up for, I don’t want to speak bad about them, but generally they can be really crowded and led by docents. And we lead ours with passion and excitement, we do fun tours for people who might not like museums.
Lisa: What kind of people do you use to give your tours? Who are some of the people who are giving your tours?
Nick: The people who lead our tours, it’s like a collective band of renegades, people that include…
Lisa: That gives you kind of a MaCaulay Culkin at the Met, [laughter] that kind of image.
Nick: They are people-people. They’re folks that love art history and that passionately love science and we have science teachers and former museum employees and museum educators, and theater professionals and musicians and people that you really want to hang out with when the tour’s over.
Lisa: You say that you have a 100% satisfaction guarantee – how does that work? How is that possible?
Nick: We know that our tours are kind of expensive – like to pay for a museum tour…
Lisa: Like what are we talking about?
Nick: They start at $39 and for some people they are used to a free tour, so we say look sign up for the tours, come and try it out and by the end of the tour, if you’re not happy with it, we will give all of your money back with no questions asked. We hope that we will win you over and you will love this museum.
Lisa: Alright, can you give us a little tease – something about the Met that we don’t know that we would find out on one of these tours?
Nick: Oh, that’s a really good question – the Met was founded in 1880, when it first moved into Central Park, and it’s ‘ginormous’, it is 2.3 million square feet. It is 13 acres, it is just so big and we just try to… I guess what we do really well, we are like docents, we are like your museum Sherpa – to guide you through the space to get you excited about this awesome museum, we now do tours at the Museum of Natural History, they are our favorite new tours.
Lisa: And do you have any more planned coming up, besides the FOX 5 studio. [laughter]
Nick: I don’t have anything planned right now. Now these are two incredible museums that New York City does really well with and we are going to focus on those.
Lisa: Well thank you for coming in and telling us all about it – we appreciate it.
Nick: Thanks for having me!