We are very excited to announce the arrival of our new London KidPack! Joining our ever-successful Paris KidPack, it is full of fun activities, puzzles and creative fun. Add one as a bonus after a family treasure hunt at any of our three London museums, and keep the discovery going!
Learn how to write in Egyptian hieroglyphics with the Rosetta Stone, decorate your own Sutton Hoo Helmet with Norse warriors and gods and spot the differences with Shiva; Destroyer and Lord of the Dance!
We’re rolling it out this winter to celebrate our Public Easter Hunts in London. Discover a unique Easter Egg hunt at the Natural History Museum and search for eggs from creatures great and small, from Dinosaurs to platypuses on Sat 28th March. Can you beat our tricera-top score?! Or celebrate a world of festivities at the V&A on Sat 11th April. Don your Easter bonnet to hunt for Britain’s burning Guy Fawkes and treasures of China’s Lunar New Year.
Keep an eye out on our blog, the first Tuesday of every month for our THATKid Tuesdays project. Each day we’ll reveal another KidPack page and use it to learn about art history and the museum collections!
Find all our Public hunts at Eventbrite or book a hunt at any of our five museums across London and Paris including the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and British Museum, and coming soon in FLORENCE!
Our final Love Hunt Blog before Valentine’s Day is all about its chubby little mascot: Cupid. Check out the whole series here, here and here! However our little cherub has a much more storied past, before he was reduced to selling cards and chocolates.
Originally Eros in Greek, the God of Love, in some versions he is one of the oldest forces in the universe, predated only by Chaos and Gaia (Earth). Most commonly though the Romans knew little Cupid as the son of Venus, Goddess of beauty. Her husband was Vulcan, but Cupid’s father is Mars, God of War, naughty! (This might be useful on your hunt!) The winged archer is a symbol of how flighty love makes us, and he carries a bow because love wounds us from afar. He is also sometimes depicted as blind, to show how love is indiscriminate and makes us blind to all else.
You might also find him riding dolphins on fountains and other classical architecture. Though clearly many Roman artists had clearly never seen an actual dolphin before ever in their lives.
But Cupid of course could not avoid being struck by one of his own arrows. Eventually even the God of Love finds himself deeply in love with a mortal called Psyche. Psyche originally meant ‘soul’ or ‘breath of life’, rather than mind in the original Greek. She was a mortal of great beauty hated by Venus for stealing worship and attention away from her. Venus send her son to make Psyche fall in love with something hideous but poor Cupid scratches himself with an arrow and instead falls deeply in love with her. He spirits her away to his villa in secret, so everyone will believe she is in love with a monster like his spiteful mother wanted.
In the ‘Beast’s’ castle Psyche is entertained by songs, and dinners that serve themselves as she slowly starts to fall for the mysterious beast she never sees… Sound familiar? (Be our guest, be our guest… what’s the story? Have you guessed?) Until one night she sneaks into Cupid’s room as he sleeps. She is so startled by his beauty, that she stumbles into his nearby arrows and falls head over heels for him too!
After some brief torturous quests to the Underworld to placate Venus, her jealous mother-in-law, Psyche is given ambrosia by Zeus, king of the gods. This makes her immortal and Cupid and Psyche live happily ever after! Their wedding feast was second only to Thetis and Peleus, also found in our Love hunt!
Today for our third Love Huntblog we have a very special object. The oldest and most mysterious object on our Love Hunt: The Ain Sakhri Lovers. Possibly the oldest porn in the world!
This statue is the oldest known representation in the world of two people making love. Discovered in the Ain Sakhri caves near Bethlehem, it dates back around 11,000 years. At this time, humans were only just learning how to move from hunter-gathering to farming. The Natufian people of the Middle East who made this sculpture we’re some of the first to begin to domesticate sheep and goats, alongside their hunting dogs for catching deer.
Now animal husbandry and breeding means you’ve worked out what men are for in the job of creating new life. So this phallic looking little figure could have been a ritual object, related to a fertility god or goddess. Maybe a divine talisman aimed at helping their fledgling civilization be fruitful and multiply? Or it could just be someone carving themselves a little saucy bit of fun!
Studying the human form
It shows two figures sat facing and with their legs wrapped around each other, one on top of the other. It is impossible to work out the figures’ genders though. We have no idea if it shows a man and woman in the act of reproduction or two men celebrating all things Priapic. Because whatever way you look at the statue, it seems to have been designed to look phallic in some way. Artist Marc Quinn wrote about this piece for the BBC’s Around the World in 100 Objects programme and noted that from every direction you can read the overall image as some kind of reproductive organ. I will leave it up to your imaginations to see what you can see!
Welcome to our second Love Hunt blog (see the first here). Read up on the sauciest stories from antiquity and get yourselves some bonus points!
Welcome to the tale of the grandest wedding of the Greek world. Maybe not the loveliest wedding but definitely the most eventful. Full of drama, scandal and family feuds, like all good weddings!
Thetis was a Sea Nymph admired by Zeus and Poseidon (Remember this for bonus points!) until they discover a prophesy. Her son will be greater than his father. So they decide to marry her off to a mortal, to avoid any danger. They did kill their dad after all!
They choose to marry her off to Peleus, a mortal king, to that great son will be mortal and no threat to the Gods. Peleus tracks Thetis down and tries to shake him off by transforming into a lioness, serpent, fire and water but he’s a clingy guy and won’t give up easily. Eventually Thetis surrenders and agrees to the wedding.
Zeus throws a huge feast to celebrate, and all the gods are invited. All except one. Eris, the Godess of Discord is not invited. Don’t we all have that one family member who always causes trouble everywhere they go? But of course, rather than stay away, Eris does what she does best and causes havoc. She crashes the wedding and throws a gift out ‘to the fairest’ goddess at the party. Hera, queen of the gods, Athena, Goddess of wisdom and war and Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and beauty all believe themselves the fairest of them all, so Zeus makes a mortal prince, Paris, pick which goddess is the most beautiful. Sound like a good idea? Having the best man publicly announce the hottest bridesmaid?
What follows is everyone is so furious at the outcome, the Trojan war begins and all hell breaks loose. Pretty good drama for just one wedding. Maybe the moral is better to invite a little discord than have a lot turn up uninvited?
Regardless, Thetis doesn’t have to stick with clingy Peleus once the war starts. She has her amazing son, Achilles, hero of the Trojan war! You can discover all about Thetis, Achilles and the Trojan war at the British Museum until 8th March 2020 in their Troy exhibition, containing one of our favourite treasures from our Fun and Games and Love Hunts, the Sopholos Dinos!
Welcome to our new blog series, highlighting the great treasures in our British Museum Love Hunt. Discover some of the most famous lovers in history: Thetis and Peleus, The Ain Sakhri Lovers and Cupid and Psyche. This upright fellow has become a bit of a mascot for our Love Hunt at the British Museum. This…ahem, impressive piece has a hilarious and surprisingly stories history behind it.
Priapus seems to have originated as a minor greek god in Asia Minor, the then greek controlled west coast of modern day turkey, and been particularly worshipped around the city of Lampascus. He was seen as a nature god and protector of farms, associated with an abundance of fruit, vegetables and livestock. The Greek historian Pausanius writes:
This god is worshipped where goats and sheep pasture or there are swarms of bees; but by the people of Lampsacus he is more revered than any other god, being called by them a son of Dionysus and Aphrodite.
However being the son of the gods of wine and love does not seem to have helped poor Priapus. I’m sure many of us have had our share of misfortunes mixing love and wine, but Priapus was cursed for his parents’ indiscretions to be forever saddled with a giant… well we now call it a priapus after the god himself, but if you’re not a classics scholar you probably call it an erection (It’s ok, you can admit that’s the first thing you noticed!) But sadly this was not much use to the god as the curse meant that it was always useless right when he needed it most!
Comedy or Tragedy?
City dwellers in Athens and later Rome don’t seem to have respected the nature god and his powers of fertility as much as the countrysiders and Priapus becomes a bit of a joke through the centuries, starting with Xenarchus writing a comedy play called Priapus in the 4th Cetury BC. Even iconic poets like Ovid and Chaucer have joked about powerless Priapus!
However our one from the British Museum collection has been well hung with little bells to create a tintinnabulum. These were suspended, like wind chimes or a mobile, above doorways as a good luck charm. This one is Roman however, not Greek so Priapus has been combined with Mercury, protector of boundaries, to guard your doorway. It was thought the sound of bells and the image of the penis kept evil spirits at bay. Of course, the bigger the better so Priapus finally found his time to shine, fighting off evil. Would you like to protect your home from the evil eye by hanging these by your front door? What would the neighbours say?!
Book a Love Hunt at the British Museum, or the Louvre for you next party or team buillding event!
This is either the last or the penultimate post in the Louvre Photo Series. It’s been a pleasure to ponder what images to use for the imminent THATLou website.
As I touched on in the last post, photographic tastes which I’d long ago forgotten awoke, such as automatically turning to black and white, steering clear of portraiture (unless people are tiny, indecipherable specs in the distance, I’m not really interested in them), looking at shadows, architecture and reflexions, and above all — what the Louvre provides in spades – is a love of geometric shapes. Don’t really have much more to say than that.
In fact a complaint I’ve had from many regarding this blog is that the posts are just too long. When I’m writing about content, which is the majority of this blog it’s true that they are a bit wordy. But were anyone who took art history seriously to read this (apart from my mother) they’d say that this blog is too superficial (she saves my feelings by not saying anything). So since you can’t please everyone, I’m just going to do a photo-dump today, and leave you with some images which may or may not appear on this imminent website that Jenny Beaumont’s doing a phenomenal (and immense) job on.
Before you can begin treasure hunting through the Louvre’s amazing collection, you first have to get inside! The museum has a charge to enter and it is much easier, and much faster to book online in advance, to save you waiting in long boring queues.
The best and cheapest place to get your Louvre entry tickets is at the official Louvre site. If you have booked a Classic or Luxe THATMuse we recommend you book your tickets for 30 minutes after your start time. This allows time for you to meet your THATMuse greeter, who will enthral you with the history of the galleries before explaining how the hunt works, then lead you through security and inside, the quickest way possible.
If you have booked a Corporate Group or School Hunt you will meet your Greeter inside the foyer of the museum. We recommend you contact us for the best way to book tickets, depending on your size and age.
Other small points to remember: All kids under 18 enter free (without the need for a blank ticket) and EU citizens under the age of 26 enter free with photo ID. We always recommend our clients who have kids aged 15 or older to bring photo ID with them wherever they go in Paris, anyway.
If you are having trouble getting tickets during high season, around the holidays for example, check out our blog here to find out the best places to get last minute tickets!
Looking for a special gift for a special person? Have friends or family going to London or Paris at Easter, this summer or who may live there? Why not offer up a museum treasure hunt, making explorers of them for some maverick museum fun!
All of our Treasure Hunts are now available for purchase as Gift Certificates!
Simply send us a message on our Contact Us page. If you provide us with the information needed (The museum if decided, names of the gift giver & recipient, a message and of course their email address), we will put together an email for you or us to send them all they need to set up their THATMuse! We do not send out physical certificates, as we have had trouble with them reliably arriving to the intended in good condition or at all…
· Gift Certificates are valid for up to six people.
· We require at least 48 hours’ notice.
· The gift certificate has a three month expiry from the date of purchase, and it is the recipient’s responsibility to get in touch with THATMuse to book a specific date and time. Specific dates and times are subject to availability. It is best to request a range of dates/times to find one that best suits our availability and the recipient’s choice.
PRICES/TYPES OF HUNT:
– A Luxe hunt for families of 6 or fewer (if families are smaller they are welcomed to invite friends to consist of a 6-person booking) costs £300/3 hours. This covers the organisation & materials (team packs with clipboards, the hunts, highlighted maps, pencils, as well of course as weighty medals for the winning team and teasing poke prizes for the 2nd place team). During the 3 hours the THATMuse Rep briefs teams on the hunt, shows them how to strategize and orients them to the museum’s layout; whilst playing we prowl about after them to spot check no cheating and maybe throw help on bonus questions. Then we all regroup for score tallying and prize-giving (which can be organized at a nearby café/pub or within the museum depending on client plans).
– A budget version also exists where you are not met at the end of the hunt.
SECURING YOUR BOOKING: When everything’s been set, we’ll send you an invoice payable by credit card online. Please note, no booking is secured until we’ve received this payment. Upon Payment we will send you our finished Gift Certificate to the recipient, with you in copy. Alternatively, if you prefer to give the gift in person, we can send you the PDF of the Gift Certificate to print and let them contact us with a set of proposed dates.
You’ll meet your THATMuse Rep at the Giraffes in the main Hintze Hall. They will have a white canvas THATMuse tote and prior to your hunt their name and contact details will be emailed to you.
Freshly charged batteries in your phones/cameras (per team) & comfy shoes.
Your THATMuse Mission
Photo your team in front of as many pieces of Treasure as possible within the given amount of time (90 minutes to 2 hours)! However, with careful reading you could pick up bonus THATMuse points. There are several ways to do this. Our bonus questions fall into three key categories: – Scrutiny (looking more carefully at the piece or surrounding rooms) Silliness (willing to trot like a Tang horse for bonus points?) Knowledge (All of these questions can be answered within another piece of treasure text, within the hunt) There are also a variety of more artistic challenges & Letter Scrambles spelling out your prize treasure with THATMuse Letters embedded in the text! We’ve intentionally provided more treasure text & fun than you could read about within the given time in the hope that you’ll want to return or extend your visit (& to ensure strategy!)
Teams must stay together, must not run, jump or shout & of course NO NO NO TOUCHING anything…
No external help… If seen speaking to a tourist-in-the-know or staffer you’re automatically eliminated; Likewise, no googling Marsupials, no GPS-ing where fossilized skin is, no phoning your geologist Aunt for help!
Please be sure you have one (1) Master Copy with all the answers and only use one (1) camera/phone (to facilitate score tallying). In respect to Museum policy please mute your phones & no flash photography
Must meet back at end point (same as Starting point) at the precise time agreed. Each minute late merits 10 negative points — that’s 10 pts debited! — per minute (!!) Sometimes there are strategical reasons to be late, but attention: if you’re more than 10 mins late you’re ousted, eliminated, no point in coming back… Ouch!
Please note, you can answer bonus questions without having found the relevant treasure, as it proves you’ve read the treasure text (& will hopefully want to return to find it after your hunt or another day; our very goal is to extend your visit and plant the seed to want to return!).
Discussing team break ups (often a 4-person family will break into two teams, one parent and one child per team) before your hunt can drum up excitement and anticipation. For a leg up on some treasure, see our THATNat category on the blog. Morsels like Human or Ape? Or Rock or Bone or Bird or Dinosaur? May just have answers to bonus questions embedded in your text!
For a sneak peek, check out this video of THATNat at the Natural History Museum:
Your first task will be to find our meeting point within the British Museum’s Great Court lobby. If entering the museum from the main entrance on Great Russell St, the circular Information Desk is to the right (within the Great Court); we’ll meet behind the Info Desk, at the Roman equestrian prince statue (photo herewith). Your THATBrit Rep will have a white canvas THATMuse tote.
Please be sure to have freshly charged batteries in your phone or camera. Please visit the cloak room &/or toilet before our meeting time.
Navigator (good with a map)
Scribe (who’s got the best penmanship?)
Reader (the lawyerly type who’ll catch bonus questions embedded in the treasure text)
Organiser (who’ll keep an eye on the clock and make sure you’re in order) and of course the photographer. Some of these roles can overlap, of course.
YOUR THATMUSE MISSION
Photo your team in front of as many pieces of THATBrit Treasures as possible within the given amount of time (90 mins to 2 hrs.) With each treasure photo you’ll earn 20 game points (about 500 game points), however, with careful reading you could pick more than 1000 bonus THATMuse points. There are several ways to do this. Our bonus questions fall into three key categories:
– Scrutiny (looking more carefully at the piece or surrounding rooms) – Silliness (willing to trot like a Tang horse for bonus points?) – Knowledge (All of these questions can be answered within another piece of treasure text, within the hunt)
There is also an artistic challenge & Letter Scramble spelling out your prize treasure with THATMuse Letters embedded in the text, both worth 100 bonus THATMuse points! We’ve intentionally provided more treasure text & fun than you could read about within the given time in the hope that you’ll want to return or extend your visit (& to ensure strategy!)
THATMuse is entirely independent of the British Museum as such, we unfortunately have no control of rooms they close off (which changes within the day)
(in addition to photographing your team in front of as many pieces of treasure as possible)
Teams must stay together at all times, must not run, jump or shout.
No external help… If seen speaking to a tourist-in-the-know or BM staff you’re automatically eliminated; Likewise, no googling the Mesopotamians, no GPS-ing where the Greeks are, or anything other than your hunt & map… No phoning your Egyptologist Aunt for help, either!
Please be sure you have one (1) Master Copy with all the answers and only use one (1) camera/phone (to facilitate score tallying). In respect to Museum policy please mute your phones & no flash photography.
Must meet back at starting point (X on your map) at the precise time agreed. Each minute late merits 10 negative points, per minute (!!) There are sometimes strategical reasons to be late, but attention (!!): if you’re more than 10 mins late you’re ousted!
For small doses of Museum/Art Trivia, tune in (share or contribute your own!) to Twitter (@THAT_Muse_) and FB page for daily posted #THATMuseFacts! Or just follow us to see fun #THATMuse hunting snaps!
Just a handy hint: the bits in bold might be the answers to bonus questions on your hunt! Buy your tickets to the Fashion Hunt at the V&A here.
If there’s one wardrobe item that I’m praying fashion will eventually bring back, it’s the hand-held fan. They’re greener than air conditioner, a good workout for the arm, and often really, really pretty. There were floral fans, feather fans, ivory fans and printed fans, mask fans and even map fans (which were among the first tourist souvenirs).
Fans also often had hidden messages in them. This ‘Royalist’ fan, pictured below, would have shown the holder’s support for the Stuart royal family after George I, Elector of Hanover seized the British throne in 1714. It shows members of the Stuart royal family in its folds. On the left, Charles II is shown hiding in a tree after having been defeated by Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester, and next to him Queen Anne is shown ascending to heaven. Who would need to read books about English history if everyone carried educational fans?! The fan both reveals and conceals the wearer’s allegiances: once slightly folded, it would only have shown a demure floral design. But that design also has a meaning: the white and red roses were actually the Stuart coat of arms. Pretty sneaky stuff, right?
There was even an entire fan ‘language’: for example, holding it with your little finger extended meant ‘goodbye’, presenting it shut meant ‘do you love me?’ and carrying it in the left hand in front of your face meant ‘we are watched’. My personal favourite is ‘I love you’—you would draw your fan across your cheek—difficult to do this subtly, I think. Here’s a Vogue article linking a whole table of fan-language & its fun, secretive translations. Expanded vocabulary can of course be found at the V&A, where there are three British Royalist fans on display! Might want to memorise a few of them to up your flirting game!
Are you signed up for our upcoming new hunt, the Fashion Hunt at the V&A (Kicking off Thanksgiving week from 2-4:30 pm on Sunday 24 November)? You may just have read the answers to some embedded bonus questions in this post! Tickets are limited, but can be bought on Eventbrite & find bonus answers in posts about fashionista Josephine Bonaparte(yes, Napoleon’s Empress) or the Pandora Doll, the predecessor of our runway sampling (which Napoleon banned, incidentally, frightened state secrets were sewn in and exported with these dolls!)
Just a handy hint: keep an eye out for answers to bonus questions on your hunt! Buy your tickets to the Fashion Hunt at the V&A here.
The Empress Josephine—Napoleon’s wife—was a massive shopaholic, and was always getting into trouble with her hubby for overspending. On the other hand, this was somewhat unfair, considering the fact that he would then make snarky comments if a woman wore the same dress twice in front of him. It was also part of Josephine’s duty as empress to restore the French luxury industry, which had been all but destroyed during the French revolution. She needed to be a trendsetter to convince the French people that conspicuous consumption was cool again (and that it wouldn’t lead to one getting one’s head removed!)
Safe to say, Josephine took this part of her job description extremely seriously. She often wore white, both because Napoleon would often say how much he loved her in white, and because it was a luxurious colour (imagine how difficult it would have been to keep spotless in the days before washing machines!) Her style of dress was inspired by flowing, high-waisted Roman and Greek styles, thus differentiating herself from the ‘corrupt’, flowery 18th-century rococo styles of Marie-Antoinette and the Ancien Régime.
Take note of the high ‘Empire’ waistline in the portrait of her, and the gilded laurel-shaped embroidery at the bottom of the dress. The laurel is a symbol of triumph in Greek mythology—for example, the god Apollo is always represented wearing a laurel wreath. Might she also have been inspired by her husband Napoleon’s crown? (he’s often shown wearing a gold laurel crown in imperial portraits).
Want to learn more about Napoleon and his circle? Have a look at our blog post on the Borghese Beautyat the Louvre. It’s about Napoleon’s scandalous sister Pauline Borghese (of course posed as Venus Victrix), who was a feisty fashionista herself (when she fluttered down to keep her exiled brother company she brought her enormous wardrobe). The little corporal certainly did like trouble-making women!
Are you signed up for the launch of our new Fashion Hunt at the V&A on Sunday 24 November? You may just have read the answers to some embedded bonus questions in this post! Tickets are limited, but can be bought here. You can also find bonus answers in our posts about Amazing Accessories (fans & their secret language!) and the Pandora Doll, the predecessor of our runway sampling (which Napoleon banned, incidentally, frightened state secrets were sewn in and exported with these dolls!)