If you know a little bit about art, or you’re just learning, there are a lot of opportunities around the city to help you learn and understand art in various forms. Since there are so many options, it’s important to know what you’re interested in learning about, while also picking the program or tours that suit you. Many of these programs have similar class styles, so it’s also important to learn about what makes them different.
Different is what Lauren Kaplan, founder of Lauren A Kaplan Art Tours strives to be, providing two unique services to her customers, since 2011. She offers one option of a personalized and customizable tour of the city’s art and architecture.
“Whether you are visiting town and want to see the Metropolitan Museum’s greatest hits, or are a New York native seeking an in-depth understanding of the season’s most challenging exhibition, we will create the right experience for you,” Kaplan said.
The company also offers a rare opportunity of small group classes held in some of the city’s museums and galleries. Kaplan says this gives her students the “rare opportunity to deeply engage with particular artists, collections or exhibitions” since she is able to teach directly from the original works of art, an opportunity not afforded in the classroom.
Not only will you learn from an expert, you’ll also get a chance to see (but definitely not touch) the piece right in front of you.
Kaplan is no stranger to the art world. She has spent a good part of her life studying and teaching others about art. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and art history and a master’s degree in education. On top of all that, she’s currently finishing her dissertation to receive her Ph.D in art history. She has also been working in a number of the city’s museums since 2003. So, there’s no question of whether or not she knows her stuff.
“Though I lead tours in all areas and museums, I specialize in twentieth century art and architecture, with a unique focus on cross-cultural exchange between Europe and Latin America,” she said.
So, what can you expect to find in Kaplan’s unique tours and classes? Because the tours are customizable, adults and families will be able to participate and enjoy. Whether, you want to learn about how science transformed some of the most iconic pieces in the Metropolitan Museum, or what influenced Lower Manhattan’s architecture, she can get you in the right direction.
“Similarly, while many other guides focus just on the work in front of the group, I always put art and architecture in a greater context, tying it to other–often older–works, to world events, and to scientific or social advancements,” states Kaplan. “Objects are not made in a vacuum, so we should not examine them as if they are.”
Prices of tours depend on length of the tour as well as group size, but typically start at $150 an hour for small groups.
For those interested in a class, but want to avoid a boring and stuffy lecture, you’ll find her classes as a better fit for you. Kaplan said you won’t find a “straight lecture format” with her. During on of her “lectures” she will ask questions, hold activities, look closely at works, and lecture, creating a more interactive environment.
“Research shows that we often retain more when we become active participants in the conversation,” she adds. “Though I always lead the experience, I aim to create an environment that feels open and democratic, allowing for multiple interpretations and voices.”
She believes you won’t find many art-focused lectures like hers, within the art community.
The majority of the classes met in the evenings or on weekend afternoons, to better fit into your work schedule. Special tours are also held on specific dates for temporary exhibitions around the city. Classes cost $55 per person or $40 a person if you are under 30 years old, and these prices include museum admission in most cases.
From art lovers to novices, to New Yorkers and tourists, Kaplan says those who have participated in one of Lauren A Kaplan Art Tours’ programs give it rave reviews. She said her biggest goal is not to get people to just “like” the art, but to get them to engage in it.
“I strive to help viewers comprehend where art objects come from and how they might help us greater understand our world today,” she said.