Uncovering the Sexy Secrets of History and Art!

Discover the backstories of some of the most famous and celebrated paintings in the world.

We take you to the world’s great art museums and uncover the scandalous backstories that bring the great artworks to life.

Stories about women’s lives, sex, sexuality, and scandal – political, financial, and sexual.  As our motto says, we are dedicated to “uncovering the sexy secrets of history and art.”

Shady Ladies Tours is a new kind of Tour Company – one that puts the fun back into art!

Shady Ladies Tours is about history and culture. But we don’t think that means you have to be boring!  Our tours are also about fun.

With us, you’ll meet the courtesan who modelled for the first nude statue of Aphrodite; learn about the Roman emperor who deified his young male lover after his suicide; explore the Italian Renaissance and its love of castrato singers; view the royal mistresses of England and France; and discover the sexual culture of Belle Époque Paris, with ballerinas and their “patrons,” the artistic cult of the femme fatale, and the nascent world of lesbian love.

Join our Shady Lady 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.


Q NYC - New York Tours

Shady Ladies Tour
Courtesans and royal mistresses line the walls of the Met, from ancient Greek hetaeras to Sargent's Madame X. But who were they? How did they rise to their positions? To find out, join us as we explore the lives and loves that lie behind the paintings.

Nasty Women Tour
On this fun and informative two-hour tour, you will meet the women who shattered the glass ceilings of their day—as artists who broke with convention, scientists who toppled stereotypes, and political figures who poisoned, slept and protested their way to power.

Fashion & Beauty Tour
How Do We Present Ourselves To The World? If you’ve never thought much about that question, you certainly will after this tour. That’s because you’ll learn about some of the most fascinating, bizarre and painful things people have done throughout history to look impressive, alluring and downright stunning.

Hidden Secrets Tour
On a typical museum audio guide, you’ll never hear these stories. That’s because art tours focus on matters of style alone—not the context that created it. But with our Hidden Secrets of the Met, you’ll hear it all: the messy, intriguing, fun side of history that makes art come alive.

Q Boston - Massachusetts Tours

Shady Ladies Tour
Boston's great art museum has an amazing collection of art on women's issues, from the courtesans of Ancient Greece to an Afro-American woman artist's homage to Josephine Baker. Come learn about the museum's Shady Ladies, its Nasty Women, and some fashion and beauty too on this combination of all of our women's history themes!

Hidden Secrets Tour
Coming Soon! Boston is known for its Puritanism, but somehow the MFA never got the memo. This great art museum is full of scandalous, sexy secrets that no one has ever told you about: from the gay couple who were the founders of the first democracy to John Singer Sargent's secret crush! Come on the Hidden Secrets of the MFA Tour, and find out the backstories that bring its masterpieces alive.

Q Philly - Pennsylvania Tours

Shady Ladies Tour
Come enjoy a museum tour unlike any you’ve ever been on! You’ll see a scene from the Dutch Golden Age of a quack doctor treating a pregnant prostitute; a portrait of Madame Du Barry, one of the most famous royal mistresses of all time; a Mary Cassatt canvas that shows clearly how revolutionary her paintings of women’s lives were; and so much more. Taken together, the works on this tour will paint a tableau of women’s lives through the centuries. They’ll give you a whole new perspective on what it means to be a woman today by showing what it meant to be a woman back then.

Q Paris - France Tours

Shady Ladies Tour
Let Shady Ladies Tours introduce you to the Shady Ladies of Paris—the royal mistresses and courtesans that ruled over the great city’s history and art, from Madame de Pompadour to the (real!) Lady of the Camellias. Discover them with Professor Andrew Lear, world-renowned scholar of sexuality and art, and founder of our company.

Marie Antoinette Tour
The aristocrat who despised the poor. The wife who cuckolded her husband. The queen who brought down the monarchy. Her name is legend, and few figures in history conjure such drama: extravagant, decadent, sensual, cruel. Yet is all of it—or even any of it—true? This is your chance to find out.

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  • Monday09:00 AM - 05:00 PM
  • Tuesday09:00 AM - 05:00 PM
  • Wednesday09:00 AM - 05:00 PM
  • Thursday09:00 AM - 05:00 PM
  • Friday09:00 AM - 05:00 PM