How to Organize the Best Team Building Outing: ART SMART Style
You may have noticed some droopy shoulders around the office, a yawn here and there, and generally low energy. So what better way to get everyone excited and back on track than a team building exercise?
Team building activities are essential: a team that works well together is more effective, more productive, and more successful. Not to mention a lot happier and more fun to work with!
But when you browse the web, searching for “corporate team building activities” or just “team building ideas” you may be overwhelmed with the amount of possibilities. And the at-work-activities may seem boring, awkward, or even deserve an eye-roll.
So, how do you organize a corporate event that is both interesting and effective?
One way to organize a team building activity that is both fun and effective is by taking your team out of the office: organize your very own team outing event.
But even then, you may not know where to start. Your co-workers may dread a corporate retreat. Who wants to sing Kumbaya in the woods with your boss, or have a blindfold on while being led by your co-worker to “build trust.” But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Below you can find the three components your outing needs to make your team building exercise a success: building up company morale and strengthening your team of professionals.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you won’t engage anyone in your corporate team building activities if no one is having fun. So, how do you ensure everyone is having a great time?
With ART SMART your team will have to think and see things in new ways. This is how we do it: we make you talk with art historians rather than having to listen to rote lectures. We transform a boring experience into an informative, interactive and enriching one. Your team will feel like VIP art insiders, while you learn to connect ideas in innovative ways.
How: Our exceptional guides will ensure your tour through art galleries and museums is dynamic and highly interactive. Through art, you will experience and explore leadership, creative thinking, communication and more.
The main reason to have your team engage in team-building activities is to improve communication and teamwork to increase productivity and progress vital to your company. So, if you fail to link the activities to your business goals, you will not reach the goal you initially aimed at.
With ART SMART, you can bridge the activities with your objectives. Who knew a tour through a National Museum or contemporary galleries could bring your team closer together, help you understand common goals, and get energized to get the job done? Our guides will make your team’s encounter with art compelling and relevant.
How: With ART SMART, you can customize our tours to your specific needs and goals. Shape any existing tour we offer to make it relevant to your team and your business. The deeply engaging experience with art can teach your team about mankind’s innovation or successes, and provoke and challenge your team to reach for their own goals.
More and more people feel stuck at work. So, how can you use team building activities to turn this around? With the right tools, your team instinctively challenges themselves to be more innovative in their work – and, as a result, perform better. And one of the most important tools is inspiration. It does not come from something that is turned on and off, but is rather triggered through multiple ways.
ART SMART’s guides – highly qualified graduate-level art historians from top universities – have their fingers on the pulse of the art world. We choose them for their passion, personality and charm as well as for the depth and breadth of their art knowledge. And with that, they are able to inspire your team through the arts.
How: Whichever tour you opt for, our guides will connect you to the restorative powers of art. From Client Appreciation Events, to Slow Looking & Visible Thinking Art Tours, to Creativity & Innovation Workshops, ART SMART offers a vast range of team building activities that will inspire your team and bring positive energy back into the office.
Find your magic now with ART SMART’s corporate events, and build the team of your dreams through our innovative approach to art. You can create your very own ART SMART tour, based on your needs and goals, in New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, and Boston.
You can contact us here, for more information.
Museum tours are more than just ways to show visitors around the city. More and more companies are realizing how art experiences can be instrumental in helping them achieve some of the goals they’ve set, not just for their employees’ professional development but also for their overall business growth.
Businesses are able to make the most out of these tours when they’re specifically designed according to their objectives, interests, and nature of work. This is where Art Smart’s strengths lie – utilizing the expertise and extensive knowledge of our team of art historians to provide engaging art experiences that let business professionals discover the impact art and culture has on their work.
These are just some of the goals we’ve helped our former clients achieve through the customized private tours we provided:
Gather More Support for Your Awareness Programs
For businesses who are looking to launch a new program in the workplace (e.g. gender empowerment) or those who have long-running campaigns that are not getting enough traction, increasing your employees’ level of understanding of the importance of such programs can help ensure their interest and cooperation.
We design art experiences to further explore specific topics and issues you’re trying to address. A customized private tour itinerary comprised of artworks that represent values you want to promote (e.g. diversity and inclusion) and exhibits that discuss how social issues manifest in different periods of history can be developed to help you realize your goals.
Improve Engagement During Themed Corporate Activities
Businesses regularly hold themed events – whether to provide a space for employees to network with other people in their industry or to initiate discussions around relevant topics.
A museum tour is a great way to expose your participants to more real-world applications and representations of your chosen theme and spark discussions in a more engaging way. Art Smart’s team of art historians are well-equipped to handpick the perfect setting and activities to highlight any theme you have in mind and match your participants’ interests.
Increase Employees’ Appreciation of Their Own Profession
We’ve given private tours to organizations under diverse industries – medicine, automotive, technology, finance, cosmetics, advertising, food, and event planning to name a few. Regardless of the nature of your company, our team of art experts can provide you with an art tour that will help your team learn more about the work they do and the industry they’re in. How has their profession evolved through time? What historical events have defined or affected your industry? Seeing how much impact your industry and profession has in the world will help you and your team find a new level of appreciation of what you do and boost your productivity and confidence in the office setting.
Generate Concepts for Company’s Branding and Marketing
Branding and marketing strategies constantly evolve. Businesses need to find ways to constantly catch up with new trends and discover ways to present their products and services in a way that resonates well with their target market.
We can help identify art pieces and exhibitions that can help spark fresh ideas on how you can attract more potential customers or clients to your business.
Strengthen Cooperation and Communication among Team Members
Traditional team building activities can get boring. Sometimes, conducting these activities in unique locations and in unconventional ways help the participants stay engaged throughout.
Museums make perfect venues for a one-of-a-kind team building activity. We can help you gamify your sessions so you’ll not only ensure to hit the goals you set but also have fun at the same time.
Exceed Guests’ Expectations During VIP Networking Events
Have you ever had some of your most valued clients visit and you have no idea where to take them? Or maybe some high-level executives you want to show appreciation for? Skip the usual social events and cocktail nights and take them somewhere special – like the museum.
Our extensive experience working with corporate teams and VIP guests allow us to provide your distinguished visitors an elegant and entertaining art experience to show how much you value them.
Inspire Creativity and Innovation in Your Product Design Team
It is sometimes challenging to come up with amazing ideas behind an office desk. A museum tour can facilitate your creative team’s visualization process by guiding them through art pieces they can draw inspiration from. We can develop unique visual experiences and even gamified sessions to get your team primed to unravel great ideas for your brand.
No matter what industry you’re in, things your employees are interested in, or level of appreciation they have for art – Art Smart can create art experiences that you, your team members, and guests will truly find meaningful and enjoyable.
Get in touch with our team for your next corporate event and we’ll make sure to deliver a unique art tour that will meet (and even surpass) your goals.
Creative professionals are valuable additions to any company. Their ideas and creations go beyond simple design work or some improvement in aesthetics. Their contributions reflect the essence of what one’s business and brand are all about.
There are many ways your office can support your creative team and encourage their own creative processes. Giving them access to museum tours might sound cliché but the entire experience is a lot more than surrounding artists with other artists works.
Here are ways art tours can help your creatives that you might not have considered before.
Employees who are in a creative rut need a break from all the ideas and distractions that clutter their minds. A trip to a museum will provide them with the change of environment they need while introducing them to new things they can focus their thoughts and creative energies on. Being around works of art will help clear their heads of unnecessary thoughts and encourage them to open up to new ideas to consider.
Taking Inspiration from Another Artist’s Work
Creatives find it refreshing to witness other people’s creations for a change. Understanding other artists’ process of creation can inspire your creatives to explore their own. The risks these artists have taken to produce their art can liberate your team to innovate more and explore concepts they haven’t considered before.
Whether developing ideas for branding or product design, creatives are looking to communicate an emotion to a target audience. Museum tours allow creatives to experience how emotions are conveyed through different art forms and styles, which can eventually lead them to discover their own unique way of eliciting the response they want out of their audience.
Reducing Stress and Anxiety
Studies have shown how a short visit to an art gallery can significantly lower cortisol levels in the body which results in a more relaxed state. This is particularly helpful in relieving your creatives of the pressure of coming up with that one great idea to pitch or when they encounter roadblocks in the project they’re working on.
Learning from Both the Past and the Future
Museum tours can be designed to take your creatives back to significant historical moments for your brand or your industry in general. Having a better understanding of where and how your industry was developed and the journey it took through time to reach its current state would give your creatives a higher level of understanding and appreciation of their work and the impact their creations could make.
Some exhibitions feature artists’ visions of what the future could look like for particular industries, which would foster out-of-the-box thinking and innovation.
At Art Smart, we design customized art experiences to bring out the desired results of business teams. Let our team of art historians help bring out the best in your creative team by addressing specific gaps they’re facing and introducing them to environments that would motivate them and inspire their next great ideas. Reach out to us and let’s talk about how we can create a unique and memorable art experience that is perfect for your team.
How do you usually express your appreciation to your clients? Do you throw a party for them? Give them expensive gifts?
When planning an event for your most-valued clients, you’d want to make a great impression. More than doing good business with them, it’s all about building on the relationship you already have.
But what is the best way to do this? In this article we’ll share with you why museum tours can be your best choice for your next client appreciation event and how it hits the mark in making the best impression to your top clients.
It Provides a Memorable Experience
The event you’re planning might not be the first one your client will be attending. And they’ve probably done one typical cocktail party after another. In order to stand out and truly be able to express your level of gratitude to your client, you should be able to provide something unique that they will remember for the rest of the years you’ll be working together.
A museum tour is able to offer just that – a one-of-a-kind experience they will cherish for years to come. It will be something your client wouldn’t expect and would get them excited every step of the way.
Participating in the tour together with your client will open up opportunities for discussion about things your client cares about, which helps in further strengthening your relationship.
It Can Be Customized According to Your Client’s Interests
You can showcase how well you know your client’s preferences by providing a personalized art tour. Whether it’s taking them down memory lane by tracking the roots of their business, establishing the bond between two different cultures, or simply going through exhibits that your client has always dreamt of seeing – a museum tour can be designed to match your client’s unique interests and backgrounds.
It Gives Your Client the VIP Treatment They Deserve
What better way to show your appreciation but to let your client know how important you think they are?
With museum tours, your client can be given exclusive access to certain galleries that they are particularly fond of and other perks that the museum or the art tour service provider is able to offer. From the security arrangements, availability of support personnel on call, down to the flow of activities – the whole experience can be organized to ensure your client’s optimal satisfaction.
You’ll Have Access to a Professional Team
Art tour companies, like Art Smart, are composed of professionally-trained art historians who are able to guide you and your client through the artworks and provide valuable inputs that your client will definitely appreciate and learn a lot from. What you want is a team that will deliver an elegant and polished execution of the tour, which typical tour guides aren’t able to provide. People who understand the caliber of your business and the value you want to translate out of this whole experience.
Don’t Settle for Anything Less
Your clients deserve the best treatment possible. A museum tour is an awesome way of showing exactly how you value your clients.
And when it comes to museum tours, don’t settle for anything less. Art Smart is adept in working with top-level management and in providing them with an art experience that is worthy of their caliber. We exude professionalism in all levels of implementation to deliver only the top-quality tour event that you envision for your clients.
Contact us now so our team can help you plan for that client appreciation event that your beloved clients will fondly look back to.
More and more companies realize the vital role that art plays in contributing to the improvement of their staff and in growing their business. Whether it’s viewing art of creating art themselves, employees around the world enjoy the benefits of immersing themselves into a cultural experience.
How exactly do museum tours help better your workplace? What benefits should you expect to get from giving your workforce access to museums?
Top Ways a Museum Tour Can Be Beneficial for Your Business
Helps with stress management
Viewing art not just lowers one’s level of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body, it also makes you less stressed faster. According to a study conducted by Angela Clow PhD and Cathrine Fredhoi MSc of the Department of Psychology in University of Westminster, the decline in cortisol concentration induced by a 35-minute visit to the museum is equivalent to that which takes about 5 hours under normal circumstances.
You might already be aware of how stress in employees is linked to workplace disengagement, reduced productivity, and absenteeism. Isn’t it nice to know that a quick break to visit the museum can help solve all these?
Makes Your Employees Happier
Do you remember how happy you are when you’re in love? How falling in love doesn’t just put you in a better mood but also prompts positive physical reactions?
Your employees can have a sensation of joy similar to falling in love when viewing art. According to the Neurobiologist Semir Zeki, dopamine (a chemical associated with the feelings of pleasure, desire, and love) is immediately released into the brain after a person sees beautiful artworks.
Improves mental health
Participation in cultural activities such as, you guessed it, museum tours, is significantly associated with having low anxiety and depression in both males and females – according to the HUNT study in Norway. Museum tours provide art experiences that calms the participants and aids in decreasing their anxiety levels.
Museum visits also help restore your employees’ focus so they’ll pay close attention to their work. Art experiences help them recover from mental exhaustion by providing the environment and other elements necessary to engage the participants effortlessly, like when they’re exposed to natural environments. These benefits are explained in detail in the study by Stephen Kaplan of the Department of Psychology in University of Michigan.
Increases creativity and critical thinking
Your employees will be able to explore their own creativity by witnessing other people’s creative genius through their artworks. Visiting a museum can provide them with the inspiration and ideas they need to innovate on their own.
Art tours also foster critical thinking by providing context to complex ideas, challenging our preconceived notions, and putting forward an unconventional way of thinking.
By availing museum tours, your team will have a better understanding of different cultures, philosophies, and backgrounds that will eventually translate into a more inclusive work environment. The whole experience can be an enlightening moment for your employees that would encourage them break down their walls and reach out to colleagues of different backgrounds more often.
Helps Attract and Retain Employees
Having a solid stand of supporting the arts and giving your employees access to museums allows your company to stand out and be more appealing to people in your community. It shows that you care about their well-being, which the talents you’re looking to hire will certainly appreciate.
Museum tours are effective, not to mention cost-effective means to care for and develop your team. Encourage your employees to visit the museum and build their appreciation of the arts by allowing them to take museum breaks or organizing a guided tour for them.
Art Smart works closely with corporate teams in providing them with a guided tour that contributes to their unique goals. We customize museum tours based on your specific line of work so your employees will develop greater appreciation of what they do and be able to harness their true potential in their work.
We look forward to working with your team! Leave your contact details HERE and our team will contact you to discuss how we can help you organize the best museum tour ever.
Discover the Guggenheim in NYC on a Private Tour
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City is one of the most well-known art venues in the world. Boasting locations around the world, the name Guggenheim is synonymous with spectacular collections of modern and contemporary art.
The New York museum is made even more stunning by its architecture. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the building features a striking white exterior and a spiraling rotunda inside.
Though the Guggenheim is recognized as an incredible museum, it can often seem intimidating to those without a background in art. That’s where ART SMART comes in; our private museum tours make the museum accessible and fun for everyone.
Learn More with a Guided Art Tour
Knowing where to begin can be difficult. Maybe you’ve never been to the Guggenheim Museum before. Maybe you have checked it out once or twice. Maybe you’re bringing your kids to the museum for the first time. No matter which category you fit into, the best way to maximize your museum experience is with a guided tour.
Each ART SMART Guggenheim tour is completely private and custom. This means the guide’s full attention is dedicated to you and your specific interests. We listen to your preferences and craft a unique tour route that is entirely catered to you. If your group wants to see the museum’s top highlights, we’ll show you a mix of special exhibitions and pieces from the museum’s rotating collection. If your child is a budding artist, we can inspire him/her with the new “A Year with Children 2019” show featuring art by students around NYC.
Real Art Historians, Fascinating History, Memorable Experiences
We understand that basic tours given by museum lecturers are often dull and can turn people off of art. That’s why ART SMART’s approach is different. We choose guides who have studied Art History for years. They’re always up-to-date on the latest exhibitions and research. We also choose them for their vibrant and engaging personalities. Each of our guides excels at sharing information in a fun, fresh way. You’ll hear quirky anecdotes, scandalous tidbits (for adult ears only!), and fun facts about your favorite artists and works that will leave you hungry to know more.
Our guides can also adapt. If you see something during the tour that you want to spend more time on, your art guide will be able to change the direction of the tour without missing a beat. With a guided group tour this simply isn’t possible, as the docents are forced to stick to a particular route and can only answer a limited amount of questions.
Don’t miss out—book your tour today!
New Frida Kahlo Exhibit, “Appearances Can Be Deceiving” at Brooklyn Museum
Get special access to the incredible Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in New York with ART SMART. The biggest U.S. museum exhibition in ten years focused on the iconic Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving features major paintings, drawings, and photographs displayed alongside some of Kahlo’s personal artifacts and clothing.
The show highlights the ways Frida Kahlo created both her personal and public identity to reflect her cultural heritage and political beliefs. It also explores how the artist addressed and incorporated her physical disabilities into her persona and her art.
On a private Brooklyn Museum tour of this Frida Kahlo exhibit with ART SMART your group will have the chance to dive deeper into the life of this iconic woman. While being guided by a knowledgeable art historian you can ask questions, discover unlikely stories, and more. During your guided exploration at the Brooklyn Museum your group can discuss the roles and perspectives of influential female figures, as well as the challenges they face.
We will reflect on the works of art in light of several key questions, based upon your group’s interests and ages. Have children along? We’ll shine a light on Kahlo as an incredible role model. Looking for a lively discussion? We can use Kahlo’s art to explore issues of race, gender, and post colonialism. ART SMART will customize your museum tour to focus on your curiosities and questions.
Along the way we can explore other amazing exhibitions on display at the museum. Though it is often overshadowed by New York’s other fantastic museums, The Brooklyn Museum is a can’t-miss cultural gem. And after your tour, our art expert can recommend hip new bars and places to get a tasty bite in Brooklyn.
The exhibit is only open until May 12, 2019 so book your tour today!
Art History can be a daunting course, even for the most enthusiastic of students. That’s why ART SMART is here to help. With the help of our incredible art historian guides, we have created a list of the best, most highly recommended Art History books.
From textbooks to photographic histories, these books are key for any budding art historian. Dive deeper into certain artistic periods, brush up on your terminology, and gain an understanding of the entire chronology of the art world. After reading these, you’ll be sure to ace any Art History test thrown your way.
The first book on our list is The Art Museum, published by Phaidon Press in 2012. This massive text contains large pictures of the most important works of art from antiquity to modern times, and includes works from every major museum or collection. Not only is this book valuable for its inclusiveness, it is also an excellent visual reference. In addition, The Art Museum also includes short, introductory essays.
Our next book, which is perhaps most widely recognized text in art history, is Gardner’s Art Through the Ages. Sold in two volumes, Art Through the Ages is the most trusted textbook for university-level art history courses. Volume One explores the art world through a global perspective, while Volume Two covers everything related to and influenced by the western ideals of art. And here’s a helpful hint: search for older editions of the books as they largely feature the same material and can be purchased more cheaply.
Third on our list is Stephen Little’s Isms: Understanding Art, which was published in 2004. This pocket-sized book explains the most difficult art history jargon by breaking down each artistic movement or period style in terms that are accessible to aspiring art historians and casual museum-goers alike. As it includes photo highlights and examples to go along with explanations, this book is especially useful for visual learners.
Another classic art history text that should not be overlooked is E.H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art. This is a great option for anyone just starting out in art history, as it gives a good overview of cultural history. The book starts with prehistoric art and finishes with 19th-century art in England, France and America. Though it is not the most up-to-date pick on our list, it is full of non-condescending art criticism.
Our next recommendation is Art in America 1945-1970: Writings from the Age of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Minimalism, edited by Jed Perl. This book is a compilation of primary sources from the major figures of the period, including artist Andy Warhol and writer Truman Capote. It includes everything from memoir passages, magazine articles, and interviews to pamphlets, correspondence, and diary entries.
The final book on our art history shortlist is Art: A Visual History, written by Robert Cumming in 2015. Another great option for visual learners, this text features a very visually engaging overview of art history. It also includes many timelines and visual chronologies, making it the perfect study tool.
Use this list of books to help jumpstart, or get ahead on, your art history education. If you’re looking for more one-on-one guidance, book one of our private museum tours or check out our AP Art History Boot Camp.
As much as you might wish for perfect sunny days for you and your clients and guests to enjoy the U.S. Open, summertime weather in New York can be unpredictable. But a rain delay doesn’t have to mean an entertainment delay.
Private ART SMART tours are an ideal entertainment alternative to the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows for your corporate team, company clients and valued guests. Our team of handpicked guides have decades of experience in the New York art scene, and can create a weatherproof custom tour ideally suited to your group’s interests and schedule.
Whether you’re interested in taking in the highlights tour of The Met Museum (Metropolitan Museum of Art), exploring contemporary galleries in Chelsea, or even checking out the American Museum of Natural History, we can ensure an engaging, VIP experience for you and your guests. We take care of tickets so there’s no standing in line, and we’ll make the most of your time by guiding your group directly to the pieces and sights that are most interesting and relevant to you and your guests.
At ART SMART we believe that each and every tour should be as unique as the individuals taking it, so you’ll never hear a rehearsed speech from one of our guides. Instead, we ask stimulating questions to encourage you and your guests to deepen your understanding of the works we visit, and we invite conversation to create a fun, interactive group experience.
Thinking of a particular place of interest you’d like to visit, but you don’t see it on our tour offerings? Be sure to ask. ART SMART tours are completely customizable, and our team’s expertise stretches far beyond museum and gallery walls. We also offer dining and drinks add-ons, and tours in a variety of foreign languages.
Contact ART SMART today to plan your perfect U.S. Open rainy day activity.
Our Feast Your Eyes Tour & Tastings have been getting incredible press. The New York Times, Wine Spectator, Food & Wine, and more has featured our Foodie Art Tour Through The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The one that you’ll probably enjoy most is Taste Talks. Their article sums up the experience in such a fun way. Thanks so much Taste Talks! Here’s the article…
A Foodie and An Art Buff Walk Into the Met…
Jun 28, 2016
Have you ever wondered why wine drinkers are seen as more highbrow than beer drinkers? Your answer lies in Ancient Egypt, where wealthy priests essentially invented the modern wine label. Think you’re a flip cup extraordinaire? Sixteenth-century Germans have had you beat for hundreds of years. Why are red-and-white checkered tablecloths symbols of Americana and Italian restaurants? Twentieth-century cubists played a part in that (and, FYI, it’s called gingham).
The Feast Your Eyes Tour and Tastings is a visual journey created by ART SMART, a New York City-based guided tour service started in 2001, provides guests with customized top-tier museum tours, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. The tour has been in the making for the past five years, and highlights pieces of art in which food and drink are the stars—giving tour-goers insight into foodie culture as we know it today.
If the tour sparks your appetite (and we’re sure it will), you can attend one of two tastings following the tour: a wine and food pairing led by one of NYC’s most renowned sommeliers Aldo Sohm at his namesake restaurant, or a six-course dinner with wine at chef Rachel Goulet’s Amali.
The tour is meant to be one-on-one, the intimacy allowing the ART SMART team of graduate-level art historians to personalize each guest’s experience to their unique interests. Judith Shupe Walsh, the founder and president of ART SMART, got the idea for her business while working as a lecturing fellow at the Met.
“There were about 80 people following me around, including the celebrity Dr. Ruth, kept positioning herself in the front and asking fascinating questions that related to her own interests—and that really struck me,” says Walsh. “At the time, there wasn’t a way for anyone to have their own private tour at the Met, even if they had the means or interest. ART SMART set out to change that.”
Joanna MacFarland, a Ph.D. graduate from the University of London’s Courtauld Institute of Art, was my guide. She seemed to know everything. Literally, everything; or at least everything about the Feast Your Eyes Tour, as she conducted most of the research for it. As someone with no art history background whatsoever, I was nervous and a little intimidated when I approached the museum; but MacFarland put me at ease right away. She was engaging and informative in the most relatable way.
Walsh explains that there is something for everyone on this tour, no matter your art background. “To get the most out of it, one just needs to come forth with their passion for enjoying life, whether that be through art, food, drink, or spending time with family and friends,” she says.
MacFarland’s passion for both art and food history was contagious from the start. We spent a long time in the Ancient Egyptian section of the museum, the culture that Walsh calls the “most rewarding to weave into the fabric of the tour.” The importance of food preservation in Ancient Egypt was astounding. Ancient Egyptians wrapped and mummified poultry and other food items to take with them to the afterlife, and would construct incredibly detailed replicas of slaughterhouses, bakeries, and breweries to take with them to the afterlife, with the belief that they’d still have access to dried meats, bread, and beer.
While the foodie craze seems like a relatively new cultural phenomenon, this tour hammers home that humans have been obsessed with food and drink for centuries.
“Food, and getting enough of it, has dominated human activity for as long as we’ve been human. It is one of the common denominators of humanity,” says Kelila Jaffe, the food historian behind Feast Your Eyes.
It’s true, and very much so through art. To someone with no art history knowledge, a painting of two Englishmen sipping wine looks like exactly that and nothing more. But through ART SMART, I got a much larger picture; the political climate between France and England, for instance, must have been tame at the time the painting was made, because when the two countries were at war, French wine wouldn’t be exported to England. Instead, drinkers in England would sip on Spanish sherry until the war ended.
“If food isn’t directly driving the narrative it is there somewhere, lurking in the background, and probably more important to the story than it is given credit for,” Jaffe explains. “Caesar didn’t go to Egypt to woo Cleopatra; he needed her grain to feed Rome.”
History ripples into the present in ways we don’t often consider. When you get wine drunk and text your ex, you may be reminded of the Latin phrase In vino veritas, meaning “in wine, [there is] truth.” You can thank the Ancient Greeks for that comforting morning-after wisdom. They believed wine had the magical ability to make people speak freely and honestly; that’s why everyone feasted and drank before talking philosophy at Greek symposiums.
Or take the word “restaurant,” It comes from the Old French word for “restore.” Due to French chef guilds, early restaurateurs weren’t legally allowed to sell food to the public; instead, they sold “restorative” bone broths, which were permitted due to their classification as a health tonic rather than a food item. Once the guilds were disbanded after the French Revolution, what would become the modern restaurant started to come into fruition.
These factoids are the real backbone to the Feast Your Eyes Tour and Tastings, supported by the theory that learning about history can enrich a foodie’s understanding of today’s culinary landscape.
“Many people see art tours as a bit about appreciating something from the past and we wanted to show them that that isn’t always the case,” Walsh explains. “Feast Your Eyes‘ focus has allowed us to dwell on contemporary cultural movements that involve all the senses. This spirit really taps into our mission of focusing on each individual during the experience, so it feels natural to us.”