What You'll Do
When you start a museum, the first thing you need to do is get your hands on some art. That can be hard, though, when you're a century or four behind in the acquisition game. The Metropolitan Museum of Art decided not to let that stop them, indiscriminately snapping up stolen, looted, and forged works with equal abandon. As you walk the halls of the museum, art historian Erin Thompson teaches you how to spot these less-than-kosher pieces through subtle giveaways in museum labels. She also discusses the scandals, both sexual and scholarly, that have taken place behind the august institution's facade.
Learn About the Met's Less-Than-Wholesome Past
Art historian Erin Thompson regales tour groups with stories of forgeries, looted pieces, and shocking scandals
Sniff Out Fishy Artwork
Glean the telltale placard language and giveaway details that can signal a work's fishy provenance
Each event is capped at eight participants; each event requires a minimum of four participants in order to take place.
Erin Thompson's résumé includes several accomplishments that you might expect from an art historian, such as a Ph.D. in ancient Greek and Roman art history. What's more unusual about her credentials is her J.D., which is a testament to her wide-ranging curiosity and lawyerly attention to detail. Leavened with a self-described "dirty mind," her restless intellect has led her to such projects as writing a novel and developing a patented technique for detecting forged artwork. Using her technique—which requires some bravery, if not an unblushing demeanor—she closely investigates the human reproductive parts in any given painting, and finds details that can reveal the piece to be authentic or a fraud.
November 8 | November 22
November 9 | November 16 | November 23
November 10 | November 17 | November 24
Depending on the date, tours are available for the following times:
1 p.m.–2:30 p.m. | 2 p.m.–3:30 p.m. | 3 p.m.–4:30 p.m. | 4 p.m.–5:30 p.m. | 5:30 p.m.–7p.m. | 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m. | 7:15 p.m.–8:45 p.m.
Where You'll Meet
Housed in an imposing Beaux-Arts edifice, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the country's largest art museum. Today, between its airy exhibition halls and secure storage facilities, the space holds more than two million artifacts and pieces of art from around the world.