“People Watching” or the act of observing people happens every day all around us. We watch people as we walk down the street or as we scurry through a busy supermarket. It is only natural to analyze the body language and expressions on the people’s facial expressions as we encounter them in life. Often times picking up on idiosyncrasies about the person we are watching. “People Watching” could be considered a hobby to some.
The Security Guard position at the Cincinnati Art Museum basically is being a “People Watchers.” I get paid to perform a unique set of responsibilities all surrounding the act of “People Watching.”
Many duties as a security guard require quiet observation of the visitors as they view historical relics of art. Ensuring the safety of the priceless collection of artwork is the most important duty performed as a Security Guard at an Art Museum. This form of “people watching” is successfully done through patrolling galleries and making the presence of the security team visible. This hinders the temptation of guests who want to misbehave. The museum has specific rules regarding photography, food and of course anything that that could damage the pieces. Artwork that I protect is worth millions of dollars and are timeless pieces that can not be replaced.Being a visible but silent entity, helps to reduce the amount of incidents regarding damage to the art through the accidental or intentional touching of pieces on display. Museums like the Cincinnati Art Museum acquire, conserve and exhibit extraordinarily rare pieces of art. Antiquities that can not be replaced for it is an artifact from a historical period of time. While performing my silent observation of art, I will notice a guest touch something.
If this damage occurs it is required to report the incident directly to our conservation team to assess the damage. Touching the art can have lasting impressions and could be permanent. Due to the natural oils and perspiration produced by skin, small touch can leave discoloration. Various medias are on display in the museum to include stone, textiles, wood, metal and oil paintings. The variation in the materials or medias of art displayed in the galleries creates different effects from the oils on out hands. Preservation of the art is necessary and will be a valuable learning tool for future generations.
The Cincinnati Art Museum was founded in 1881 and is one of the oldest art museums in the United States. The museum holds a comprehensive collection of over 60,000 pieces from various time periods and historical times in art history. The museum has been an art hub for over 100 years with a strong educational influence.
Another duty while I “people watching” is assisting in student tours. The importance of these tours is to enrich the students knowledge and understanding of the art in the museum in conjunction with other teachings in their curriculum. The study of art throughout history is part of cultural heritage in America. Art has a broad spectrum of benefits when explored at deeper levels, that include fine motor skills, understanding of culture, improved emotional skills and enhanced creativity. (Jensen,2001)
Art holds clues to the way life was in the past and gives the observer the opportunity to learn about the culture in which the art was originated. Depictions of the art and the way the artist tells a story are interpreted and discussed during the tours in the museum. Students can browse famous icons of art history such as Picasso and Van Gough. Student tours of all ages wander my galleries each day. The art sparks creativity among the youth and encourages students to make strong bonds with art created in the past to art created in the 21st century.
The guests at the Cincinnati Art Museum, that visit have unique types of backgrounds and a variety of ages. Each individual having a distinct opinion or idea about what their eyes see in the paintings. Many guests spend a great deal of time analyzing the art. Spending long pauses, glaring deep into the canvas of each piece of art hanging in the gallery. Often times the visitors have deep conversations in my presence giving me different points of view.
Although my duty is to remain silent and listen to the conversations., I often find the discussions to be insightful. When I learned a new perspective from listening to the guests describe the art, I realize the importance of art as an integral way it has captured a person, place, and a feeling or thought.
Protecting the art on display at the Cincinnati Art Museum is a glorified “people watching” position which requires silent observation of visitors. My soul purpose is to ensure the safety of the million dollar collection and to bring responsible viewing of the art. I form a silent bond with the visitors, transforming a relationship of equal respect for the art. My position as a Security Guard puts “people watching” into action and is a unique job.
Jensen,(2001) Arts with the brain in mind, Alexandria, Association for supervision and curriculum development