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“It’s really great to see the intricacies of the art that doesn’t get the big advertisement,” she said.

A museum hunt is a way of getting people to “discover stuff they wouldn’t normally see because they fall into habits and tend to go toward the biggest hits,” said Mr. Watson, a former magazine writer and editor who creates 80 percent of the mystery hunts himself.

The groups receive specific directions, such as ‘look for the lion, turn left, turn into the room where there’s a royal bed,’ ” Mr. Watson said. “Sometimes I’ll make a group go through a room just so they can see it. My hope is that people get excited and after the hunt, go back to parts of the museum they were intrigued by.”

David Filipiak, the Met’s tourism marketing manager, said Watson Adventures ties in nicely with the museum’s campaign to “Get Close” to the art.

“When you look at art, it can [help] you not just wander, stroll by, but truly take the time to look at the details. It can be a changing experience,” he said.

Watson Adventures said it brought 3,878 people to the Met in 2010 and 1,943 during the first six months of this year. That year, 4.9 million people visited the museum, the Met said.

The hunts, averaging $35, do not require any knowledge of art and are held on select weekends each month. A pair of comfortable shoes is advisable.

A recent and timely addition is the “Wizard School Scavenger Hunt,” designed for “Harry Potter” lovers. The company describes it as a way for wizards and muggles alike to enjoy searching for art reminiscent of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and creatures as scary as a Dementor.

Watson Adventures also offers scavenger hunts in historic locations, such as Salem, Mass., famous for its 17th-century witch trials, and New York’s Greenwich Village, a mecca for artists and innovators that is the home of the Stonewall Inn, which became a rallying point for gay rights in June 1969.

Loring Allen, 49, a marketing executive from Rye, N.Y., said the Watson Adventures hunts are so challenging and fun that she has participated in five, including a “Naked at the Met” hunt that a friend booked for a group of friends in town for her wedding.

“She did it as a way to entertain people … and have them get to know each other,” Ms. Allen said. “And then I had people to talk to at the wedding.”