The duty of the
They spend eight hours a day on their feet watching with the stealth of spies, eager to maintain a low profile in the galleries so as not to intrude on the museum-going experience of guests. Unless someone wants to talk art with them, of course. Then they are more than happy to come out of the shadows and oblige.
The team of eight who stand in front of collections of abstract works, drawings and prints -- they work various hours to cover guard duties six days a week -- have in common a love of art that they are eager to share with the public.
After all, they are art students, art school graduates and artists.
"Part of the advantage of hiring artists and art students is that they're more enthusiastic about the artwork," said
Woodard, 39, who has worked at the museum since 2000, pursued his studies in art and was appointed head of security in 2012. He graduated from
Woodard, who works a 40-hour week patrolling the museum, aims to set aside 15 hours a week furthering his artwork.
"Painting is the passion," he said. "I'll go home and, energy providing, I'll work on something."
The seven others share a similar interest.
Since docents volunteer only three days a week, for one hour a day, the guards can take up the slack. The group enjoys discussing art pieces with visitors.
"The number one question we get is, 'What does this mean?'" said Flynn. "We've taken on the role of being docents."
To learn more about current or permanent exhibitions, the security team listens to visiting artists discuss the inspiration behind the collection.
"I always keep my ear out to hear all the different perspectives of a piece," said guard
"The artists on our security staff respect the great art in the museum and want it to be around for hundreds of years -- I'm sure they want that for their own work -- so who better to watch out for its safety?" he wrote in an email.
"Because they know about art techniques as well as art history, they're also good at answering the questions visitors ask them. While taking care of their main job of protecting the art, they make the museum a more visitor-friendly place. That's what a good security staff is all about."
With an average of more than 100 visitors touring the museum over a weekend and a good number stopping by during
"It's more important to make people feel comfortable," said Flynn.
That means walking where people go, but not following every step.
"We have video cameras do that," added Flynn.
Another comforting factor? No museum ghosts. Producers from the paranormal television reality series "Ghost Hunters" probed the grounds in March to determine if the museum, built in 1929, is haunted. After a tour of the location with electromagnetic field (EMF) meters in hand, investigators said they found nothing.
But there's more to the guard job than watching paintings, sculptures and installations. Add removing a snake from the lobby and celebrity sight-seeing to the list.
The guards said
Said Flynn: "It's never dull around here."
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