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ABOUT US

Shady Ladies Tours is a new kind of tour company…one that puts the fun back into art!

We take you to the world’s great art museums and uncover the scandalous backstories that bring the great artworks to life.  Stories about women’s lives, sex, sexuality, and scandal—political, financial, and sexual.  As our motto says, we are dedicated to “uncovering the sexy secrets of history and art.”

Shady Ladies Tours is about history and culture. But we don’t think that means you have to be boring!  Our tours are also about fun. With us, you’ll meet the courtesan who modeled for the first nude statue of Aphrodite; learn about the Roman emperor who deified his young male lover after his suicide; explore the Italian Renaissance and its love of castrato singers; view the royal mistresses of England and France; and discover the sexual culture of Belle Epoque Paris, with ballerinas and their “patrons,” the artistic cult of the femme fatale, and the nascent world of lesbian love…

Join our art museum tours for an adventure like no other, where high art meets desire, culture meets power—and you gain a completely new understanding of history and art.

We launched our company in 2015 with a series of tours at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum, and have branched out from there, to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and to Paris, where we offer two different 5 day discovery tours.  And more museums are on the way, with tours in London and Rome in the works for 2019. The Met, however, still remains our spiritual home: not only does it have one of the world’s greatest art collections, it’s also one of the very few museums that covers the whole history of art, with works from every period, culture and genre. As a result, it is a great museum in which to explore cultural history—and it also happens to have an amazing collection of works related to women.

  • The original Shady Ladies of the Metropolitan tour is an assembly of courtesans, mistresses, and professional beauties throughout the ages, from ancient Greek hetaerae to Sargent’s Madame X.
  • Learn all about power and politics with Nasty Women of the Metropolitan: women who shattered glass ceilings in Ancient Egypt, Imperial Rome, Revolutionary France and so many other times and places.
  • The Fashion and Beauty at the Metropolitan tour shows you the way ideals of beauty and gender have changed over time and culture and the crazy things that people have done (and are still doing!) to live up to them.
  • Hidden Secrets of the Metropolitan covers the scandalous backstories behind many of the museum’s masterpieces.  From the actress turned mistress who became the Countess of Derby to the lesbian painter who put herself, dressed as a man, in the middle of the Met’s largest canvas, this is a tour that brings the whole museum to life

Our Shady Ladies Tour of the MFA, Boston, and the Shady Ladies Tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art combine all of the themes of our Met tours.  We show you the Shady Ladies, Nasty Women, Hidden (and sexy) Secrets, and a little fashion thrown in for fun!

If the Met is our home, the highpoint of our year is our tours of Paris.  Courtesans and mistresses were so important in Parisian culture from the Renaissance through the 1930s—and there are so many places and artworks in the city connected to them—that the Shady Ladies of Paris Tour is a natural (though no-one has ever done it before!): there is no more Parisian theme to follow in the city!  And this year, we are adding a new tour, dedicated to the original “Nasty Woman,” Queen Marie Antoinette, whose life we can follow through Paris and Versailles, from her elegant (and possibly decadent) years at court through the tumult of the Revolution to her shocking end on the guillotine. 

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