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In art museums I have visited, there is always the presence of the guards watching the museum’s treasures. They try not to intrude on the experience, but keep a watchful eye on their charges.


I recently went to see “Alex Katz, This Is Now” at the High Museum in Atlanta.  I love Katz’s work and had never seen so much together in one place. It was impressive, and the layout and scale of the exhibition was intimate yet grand. The show included 40 pieces, 15 that were unveiled for the first time. Most were large landscapes.


I went on a weekday, and the museum was nearly empty.  But in every room, there were the guards, standing stoically by the work.

Image 1

I always wonder what they are thinking of, hour after hour, in the presence of great art.

Image 2When I go in to a museum gallery, I spend a lot of time just looking, not just at the art, but also at the people looking at the art.  And because it was so empty this time I especially noticed the guards.

This female guard was especially vigilant, standing where she could keep an eye on two adjacent galleries.

Image 3

I know they notice me as I come in and out of their space photographing not just the art, but also them.  They never question me or overtly acknowledge my presence. I find their aloof presence reassuring.


Do they stay focused on the art?  Or are they wondering what they are going to cook for dinner that night?