The Guardian

Via Museos Unite's Tumblr, here's a story about a New York magazine special issue featuring the art of museum guards. I think it's wonderful that they have been given this opportunity to express themselves as individuals, not just as silent sullen guardians of something more valuable.
In yesterday's Brown Bag seminar (review to come) we heard about Fred Wilson, an artist, giving museum guards the ability to serve as docents in his museum interventions, but certainly, more needs to be said about the valuable service these people provide to museums. Quite apart from the valuable security service they give (sometimes at their cost, such as the guard killed last year during the shooting at Washington's Holocaust Museum), many of these individuals are among the few museum representatives visitors see during their visits (along with gift shop, cloakroom, information and ticket staff, equally likely to be posessed of only marginal museum training and interests), and because of their presence in the galleries, are most closely associated with the curatorial content therein. In my experience as a visitor, they have been very helpful and informative; many times, I have showed my own engagement with artwork through discussing it with a companion, only to have a guard approach me and let me in on more details about the work or point out something else in the gallery or museum that relates to it or is likely to be interesting to me. As a one-time museum guard myself (worst job ever), I understand the tedium of the endless hours of aimless standing around, the discomfort of having to tell people to step back from the art on the walls, the stigma around the job as visitors (not everyone, but enough to count) assume that I am illiterate or underqualified (whereas in fact I had just finished my MA and was just spinning my wheels in a job marginally associated with my chosen profession). Bravo, Sw!pe Magazine for celebrating the people who keep museums ticking!


Kirsten said…
Psst that's not Museos Unite's Tumblr, that's just my personal Tumblr :P
J said…
Sorry, Kirsten, you kind of represent MU for me! :-)
Jenny said…
This is fantastic. I love it. I'm so thrilled that people who are often so marginalised by both the institutions they work in, and the public they work for, are able to give themselves a voice. I say do it again!

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