Last week on “Letterman,” I told the following true story.
When I was seventeen, my friend Peter Nelson and I visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and took an audio-guided tour of their exhibit on ancient Chinese art, “Tales from the Land of Dragons.”
While we were taking the tour, we got an idea: let’s make our own tour, come back, and replace all the tapes with our own version.
We snuck a tape out of the exhibit and took it home, where we transcribed all the information on the tape. Then wrote our new tour – careful to make sure it corresponded to all the actual art in the exhibit. We recruited a classmate with a Romanian accent to voice the narration, and borrowed CD’s of traditional Chinese music from the Newton Library for background music. Then we made fifteen copies of the tapes, printed fifteen labels that looked exactly like the labels on the originals, and gathered a group of fifteen friends to take the audio tour together one Saturday – each of us slyly replacing the original tape with our new version while taking the tour, and then returning the audio players with the new tape inside, for the next round of museum-goers to receive.
The first several minutes of the tour are completely straight: our idea was that the experience would be more amazing if things started going off the rails deep in the middle of a relatively straightforward art tour.
Here is the complete audio of the tour.
Here is the Boston Globe article that ran the next day: