Traveling deeper into a culture has gotten easier in the past few years—and has even become a business model. With Airbnb launching a special “Experiences” division and endless apps offering tips from “insiders,” companies have brought travelers even closer to locals. Israeli entrepreneur and curator Sarah Peguine aims to bring the popular in-the-know vibe into the arts, too: This January, she launched Oh-So-Arty, a site offering international art tours led by local experts.
Peguine, 30, has quite the international background herself. Born to a French mother and a Belgian father in Marseille, France, she spent her childhood living in Tel Aviv. When she was 12, the family moved to Brussels. Peguine pursued a BA degree in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and, in 2008, went back to Tel Aviv. “I fell in love with the city’s art vibes and really wanted to share my discoveries, so I launched Oh-So-Arty, which started as a personal blog,” she says. While blogging about the Tel Avivian art scene, Peguine worked as a codirector of the established Dvir Gallery, traveling to Art Basel and FIAC in Paris for her work.
On the new Oh-So-Arty website, art lovers can access carefully selected tour guides from 13 cities in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Peguine built a group of people “whose work and engagement in their local scenes I’ve followed with admiration,” borrowing from her professional connections around the globe. In London, the guide is Marine Tanguy, art collector and founder of an innovative agency representing visual artists. In Warsaw, you’ll be exploring with Zuzanna Zasacka, an art historian specializing in Polish art.
Each tour guide is available to book directly through the Oh-So-Arty website, and the private tours are available for solo travelers, couples, or a small group, priced from $40 to $150 depending on the program. The tours are tailored to the group’s needs and interests. A detailed questionnaire is sent prior to booking, inquiring about things such as whether you’d like to meet a local artist and which media you like. Despite being miles apart from each other, the guides, Peguine notes, collaborate and give each other feedback and tips.
The idea was born three years ago when Peguine gave her first solo art tours around Tel Aviv. “During that time, I’d learned that except for art, what makes me the happiest in my field are the people I meet,” she says. “This might sound cheesy but it’s true!” Now, she wants to bring a mix of personal connection and exceptional tours to art-loving cities from San Francisco to Shanghai. “My target audience is art enthusiasts who love to travel,” says Peguine. “Some people have already booked tours in a few different cities.”
While Oh-So-Arty is first and foremost a passion project, Peguine is well aware of the current trend in travel: “We’re looking for more personal, authentic experiences,” she says. “Art plays an indispensable role in finding them. It acts as a vessel, through which travelers can simultaneously learn about the culture, local trends, habits, and concerns of the place they are visiting.” The initiative has newly expanded to additional cities like Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, and Melbourne. It’s going to be a great year for international art peeping.