Discover Hidden Queer Secrets At The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

Visit works by a lesbian artist appearing in drag in an oil painting and another featuring a castrato singer and his clergy lover.

Starting this weekend art aficionados can join the “Hidden Secrets of the Metropolitan,” an exciting two-hour tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, presented by Shady Ladies tours that reveals the scandalous stories behind some of the Museum’s most famous works of art.

Created by Professor Andrew Lear, a leading scholar on the history of sexuality and one of the foremost experts on erotic Greek and Roman art, the Shady Ladies art museum tours introduce art lovers to some of the scandalous back-stories behind the sexiest and sauciest works of art in New York City. Other tours from Professor Lear include “Nasty Women of the Metropolitan,” “Shady Ladies of the Metropolitan” and “Gay Secrets of the Metropolitan.”

Hidden Secrets of the Metropolitan takes a look at the messy, intriguing, fun side of history that makes art come alive, such as The Horse Fair (image at top), painted by Rosa Bonheur, the lesbian artist who portrayed herself as a man—smack in the middle of the Met’s largest painting. Other works discussed include: a piece by the Renaissance painter-monk who married a nun—after she posed for him as the Virgin Mary; the most famous castrato singer of 17th century Rome and his lover (a Cardinal); the actress who became a mistress and then rose to the top of society as the Countess of Derby; and, the lascivious 19th-century nude that straddles the divide between art and pornography.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The “Hidden Secrets of the Metropolitan” tour begins Sunday, February 11 at 11am. The tour groups meet 15 minutes in advance of tour time at the feet of the statue of pharaoh Amenhemet II (the big black pharaoh statue) in the Great Hall. Tickets are $59 for adults, $49 for seniors and $35 for students and Metropolitan Museum of Art members and available at the Shady Lady website.

Bryan van Gorder usually writes about the places he's been or the famous people forced to talk to him.