Shady Ladies Tours is a new kind of tour company…one that puts the fun back into art! Our art museum tours take you to the places that other tours don’t and show you the artworks that other tours won’t—complete with the sexy, intriguing, and sometimes scandalous backstories that cast them in an entirely new light.


After all, you’re an adult now—so it’s time they let you in on the secrets! Gender and sexual desire are key themes in almost every period and culture. From castrati and courtesans to Near Eastern harems and French kings’ official mistresses, every age has dealt with what it means to be gender roles in its own unusual and fascinating way.


Sex, erotic love and women’s status are expressed in different societies in amazingly different ways—and these are often central themes in their artwork. Shady Ladies Art Museum Tours is your chance to learn all about them, and to see even familiar works and periods of art history in a whole new light.

New York Art Museum Tours

We launched our company in 2016 with the original Shady Ladies tour of the Metropolitan Museum.  Since then, we have branched out:  we now have 4 different tours of the Met, Shady Ladies tours of the MFA Boston and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a Women’s History Walking Tour of Greenwich Village, and the fabulous four-day Shady Ladies tour of Paris!

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.

  • Our 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.
  • See the museum a whole new way on the Fashion and Beauty Tour—because they might as well call it the Metropolitan Museum of Fashion.  From African nose rings to foot-high wigs and centuries of different corsets, follow the changing standards of “beauty” in many cultures and the lengths to which artists and sitters have gone to live up to them.
  • Hidden Secrets of the Metropolitan takes you on a path through the museum, from scandal to scandal through the centuries—from masturbating monkeys in the Greek galleries to the greatest pay-for-play scandal of Renaissance Florence to the shoulder strap that almost ended John Singer Sargent’s career!

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.

Professor Andrew Lear

All of our art museum tours are designed by Professor Andrew Lear and led by a team of dedicated scholar guides.


Professor Lear, a leading scholar on the history of sexuality and a master guide, is the founder of Shady Ladies Tours. With a B.A. from Harvard and a Ph.D. from UCLA, Professor Lear is one of the foremost authorities on the erotic in Greek and Roman art.


His book on Greek vase-painting won widespread praise for its erudition and accessibility, and was hailed by the American Journal of Archaeology as “destined for Classic status.” First and foremost, however, Professor Lear is a teacher. He prides himself on his ability to make high culture accessible to everyone, honed through years of teaching at Columbia, NYU and Harvard—where he won the Harvard Certificate for Excellence in Teaching four times.


With his groundbreaking work on the history of art, his expertise in bringing the past to life and his long experience as a scholar and teacher, Professor Lear is your ideal guide to the always exciting, often racy, world of great art.


Professor Lear’s expertise and knowledge is phenomenal. A master host, engaging, exciting, with a fine sense of humor. I look differently at art now, looking for hidden connections Professor Lear opened my eyes to.”—Natalia N. (Trip Advisor review)

Professor Lear, the founder of Shady Ladies Tours art museum tours

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