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Baltimore Museum of Art will host an exhibition curated by the museum's guards (artbma.org)
419 points by hampelm on July 20, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 144 comments

Looks like it's getting hugged to death: https://web.archive.org/web/20210716193902/https://artbma.or...

I love the BMA. It's a free museum with a great restaurant, cool exhibits, a nice park across the street. Nearby is The Book Thing, a free book store. Also another (non-free) book & record store, Normal's. And another, Urban Reads. And another bookstore/coffee shop, Bird in Hand. And a farmer's market. And a vegan restaurant. And the quirkiest diner ever, Papermoon. And a small rock venue. And a worker-owned co-op coffeeshop that President Obama visited. All in a four block radius.

Dang, I miss Baltimore.

there is this tee - Baltimore, Actually I Like It - you need it fam. Been here for 31 years, working in IT now, raising a family and all that. Balto is cool.


I've seen this t-shirt around. As a Baltimore native, it sort of irritates me even though it's tongue in cheek! It assumes that Baltimore is a bad/unlikable place that people need to learn to love (or need to convince others that it's worth living in).

In fact, I think there's a lot to like about the city right off the bat and that many people are drawn to it without feeling like they're being forced to live there.

I don't know, maybe we can start with the positive image of the city rather than having a base assumption that it's some kind of hellscape. Doesn't mean we should ignore the negatives, just that the negatives don't need to precede the rest. I don't hear NYC residents say "New York...it isn't all rats and homeless people!"

Certainly, there is a media component to it. I live in Minneapolis. If you ask my relatives in wisconsin, they’d say that ‘Murder’apolis has been, and continues to be, a flaming hellhole of constant arson and carjackings ever since George Floyd was murdered. They watch local television news (with a sprinkling of Facebook garbage newsfeed) and don’t know enough to realize their entire mental model of the place is wildly skewed.

Likewise, I’ve never stepped foot into Baltimore, but I’ve watched The Wire so…

Portland, Oregon here. For a few years now if I'm out in the suburbs or conservative exurbs and tell people I live in the city, I hear, "sorry for you. Portland's a shithole." That view went national over the summer of 2020, with a lot of help from Fox news. (The president declaring our city an anarchy zone and sending in unmarked humvees with DC plates to black bag protesters didn't help). And yet it's an incredibly livable, fun, interesting town. Outside perception rarely matches the reality.

Resident of Washington, DC, here. When we moved into the city, a friend of my father's--both men had lived in DC in the 1950s--resident in Arlington said dire things. Now, parts of Arlington are great, and in other parts of Arlington gangs were going after each other with machetes. I cannot say that my part of DC is as safe as I'd like, but a lot of suburbanites--including some who could throw a football across the city line--have a pretty lurid picture.

New idea for a t-shirt. “Baltimore: Trump hates it.”

From Trump's POV, Baltimore is a flyover city.

My grandparents came from Baltimore and I spent some time there with cousins. My grandpa owned a bar in West Baltimore during segregation. He was Russian. Lot of stories there. It seems like a cool town. It's definitely got a depressing, kinda inward vibe about it. I should probably go back and hang out again, but most of my family has moved away now.

Having lived in Baltimore for 8 years, I consider it a hellscape. One of the worst things about Baltimore imo is the way its fans idealize it as some kind of regular town where bad things only happen to bad people. There's an unbelievable amount of crime and danger. I invite any skeptics to check for yourselves: join a Baltimore community like /r/baltimore on reddit and see how often people post about break-ins, muggings, shootings, carjackings, not to mention corruption in the government.

In matters of taste like breweries vs vineyards, it doesn't matter if you encourage strangers to move and that they might like it; the risk is just that they find they preferred the other option. When the risks are becoming a victim of random crime just walking down the street or having an apt with ground-floor windows, it's irresponsible.

Is The Wire real?

I think it's as real as is possible for a piece of fiction to be

Yes. Worse things happen everyday in every hood in America.

I can't speak to the general case, but I have to give the show that the grain elevator did get turned into condos [1].

[1] http://www.silopoint.com/

no, the real omar was unfortunately heterosexual.

The part about the police culture is Pretty spot on

No, it's a fictional TV show

I'm glad I didn't ask about Santa then.

Quirky diners are one of the biggest things I miss from seacoast NH.

What is there to do for tech work in Baltimore? All jobs I've seen are in the MIC, which I dislike.

Johns Hopkins APL is not far south on 95 from Baltimore. It does MIC stuff, but is also involved with various space programs. There are a bunch of small and large tech companies in and around Baltimore and Baltimore county. I've worked in Columbia, Linthicum, and Rockville MD. (Rockville commute was insane before the new highway, now it would doable for folks who don't mind driving a lot).

I lived there for 12 years. Generally speaking, Baltimore is good if you want relatively affordable housing. A number of neighborhoods are great for DINKS (dual-income, no kids). Public schooling is a hard no-go unless you really get involved and enroll your kids in a carefully selected charter or magnet school. There are some excellent private schools. Baltimore county has options too if you want something that's more suburban.

As far a crime goes, the city has some really profound problems that are the result of white flight and systematic disinvestment. It was hit hard by the crack epidemic and has not really recovered. The TV shows "The Wire" and especially "The Corner" capture the flavor of the rough parts of Baltimore more than residents would like to admit. As far as safety is concerned, like other big cities, it's not really a problem for folks that would read HN, unless you enjoy hanging out in bars at 2am and getting into arguments with armed drug-trade people. Don't leave anything in your car, get a security system for your house.

> The TV shows "The Wire" and especially "The Corner" capture the flavor of the rough parts of Baltimore more than residents would like to admit.

I think The Wire was pretty accurate and a lot of Baltimoreans aren't in denial about what kind of city it was/is. However, if you're only hanging out and working with folks who don't leave the White L[1], you'd think the rest of Baltimore is pretty awful and if it wasn't for work/family, they'd leave ASAP. Not to discredit the concerns folks have, just saying that the loudest voices also seem to be the most negative without being constructive (just check various FB "safety" groups, e.g., Mt Vernon Safety, or Nextdoor).

I recently moved from Baltimore to Philadelphia and in many ways it seems like a bigger version of Baltimore. Lots of white/black segregation, crime (it's already above 300 homicides for 2021), potholes and generally poor road maintenance, poorly run city gov't, etc. Yet somehow there doesn't seem to be the same level of negativity about the city here.

[1] https://www.baltimoresun.com/citypaper/bcpnews-two-baltimore...

I think part of the reason is that Baltimore has pumped up murder rates due to it being an independent city. The situation is bad, but that inflates the number.

> Yet somehow there doesn't seem to be the same level of negativity about the city here.

Baltimore has its merits… but Philly has a lot more going for it.

(Source: currently in Balto, went to college in Philly).

> but Philly has a lot more going for it

You mean Jobs? Philly definitely has more. But I found Balto to have more going for it, despite being tiny in comparison. Culture-wise, Baltimore has loads of everything (except the "we're pretending we're NYC-lite" that DC and Philly push). There's loads of green spaces, festivals, multicultural cuisines/neighborhoods, industries. Baltimore even exceeded Philly in things like hackerspaces/makerspaces/tool libraries. And Balt has [some] free public transit! And though the history isn't pushed much, there's a ton of it all around. I'd also argue the Inner Harbor exceeds any Philly tourist district in terms of interesting ways to waste a saturday for a wide range of people. Then you've got the stadiums right near the harbor, the light rail to whisk you up into the lush suburbs, and more quirkiness and charm than practically any city in the US.

But I might be biased.

Baltimore didn't boo Santa Claus.

All good points, except Baltimore was/is a heroin town, not a crack town, and The Wire was more like 80s/90s Chicago than Baltimore. Baltimore's drug trade (when I lived there) was run by many little gangs largely made up of childhood friends and just claiming a few blocks as territory. This actually makes it more dangerous, not less. The Corner is accurate, however, probably because Charles Dutton was involved.

Just like every city, it works hard to make sure upper-middle class white people are safe, but definitely don't leave anything valuable in your car. Don't even leave pennies in a tray visible from the outside.

> by many little gangs largely made up of childhood friends

This is my impression of how most gangs work. Did the Wire give a different impression?

The Avon Barksdale gang is a professional, almost corporate empire. The inner circle is family but it runs from neighborhood boys as foot soldiers all the way up through a “COO” type (Stringer Bell) attending business school in the evenings. At one point the various gangs of Baltimore are amalgamated into a trade association that meets in hotel ballrooms and follows the Roberts Rules of Order. Leading to one of the greatest exchanges on TV ever:

“Is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy?”

“The Roberts Rules say the meeting got to have minutes!”

I love these commments. Now the distric attorney needs to tell the police to do their jobs. (Really tired of resources being wasted on marginal tickets/dui's, instead of zeroing in on real crime.)

If we're still talking about the Wire, it had quite a bit to say about the District Attorny's office as well.


Re: JH APL, also, there's the Space Telescope Institute, which will be running the James Webb Space Telescope.

> Public schooling is a hard no-go unless you really get involved and enroll your kids in a carefully selected charter or magnet school

You can go to these schools, ultimately it is about whether you are okay with your child being a racial minority. BCC is one such example of a school (maybe you would put that in the carefully selected magnet category).

>You can go to these schools, ultimately it is about whether you are okay with your child being a racial minority.

You're assuming crispyambulance is white. If crispyambulance is black then crispyambulance wouldn't be a racial minority in these schools (I think that's what you're saying). If crispyambulance is Indian then crispyambulance has no choice and will be a racial minority at every school.

Yes, I absolutely would put "BCC" in the category of select magnet schools which are appropriate for college-bound kids.

> As far as safety is concerned, like other big cities, it's not really a problem for folks that would read HN, unless you enjoy hanging out in bars at 2am and getting into arguments with armed drug-trade people.

Again, completely inaccurate and misleading statement, despite yourself pointing out how residents don't like to admit how bad Baltimore is. Having worked in IT in Baltimore, a coworker of mine got mugged, a black eye, and had to take the next day off work just because he was strolling through a very popular park on a weekday evening. Wealth and education don't protect you if somebody targets you on the street, and it happens way more than Baltimore residents will admit.

The key thing is "like other big cities".

What happened to your coworker can and does happen in any large city with lots of people. Are you saying this could not have happened in NYC, Los Angeles, DC, or Philly?

I perhaps should not have said "not really a problem". Crime/safety is a problem in Baltimore, but it's not drastically different than many other urban areas.

Since you bring up NYC, LA, Philly, Baltimore is top 3 in list of total violent crimes whereas the other cities top out at 24 for DC, 25 for Philly, 32 for LA, and 59 for NYC. So Baltimore is in fact drastically different from NYC/LA/DC/Philly. You only proved my point.


"Total violent crimes" per 100000 population is a very blunt statistic that tell you very little about a city and virtually nothing about any particular neighborhood. It mashes together a lot numbers that mean different things to different demographics. And most importantly, those stats say absolutely nothing about the actual context of these crimes.

Sorry you had a rough time in Baltimore. I was there through the O'Malley years and saw amazing improvement in my old neighborhood, Patterson Park/Butcher's Hill. Some other places didn't fare so well despite occasional promising signs (Sandtown-Winchester, Hollins Market).

Baltimore is not for everyone, and that's OK. We all have/had our reasons for being there. There's no good reason to trash Baltimore or call any city "a hell-scape". It didn't get the way it is overnight, and it won't improve overnight. It will take many years.

I gave numbers and I gave context, and you have shown that you're not genuinely considering the idea that Baltimore might not be a great city for most people, you just have your opinion and aren't entertaining any alternatives. If you love Baltimore, great. But saying Baltimore is just another city when only 2 other cities in the entire country have more violence is like saying some country in the middle east some city in Pakistan isn't so bad because every city has bombings. Glad that comforts you, but it isn't true.

> There's no good reason to trash Baltimore or call any city "a hell-scape"

I will call Baltimore a hellscape 7 days of the week and I consider it 100% justified. I actively hope people don't move their for their own sake; I already left, it doesn't matter to me what happens there anymore.

I also encourage anybody who hasn't visited and doubts me to check for yourself and make your own opinion, not believe me or crispyambulance. Look up crime/violence statistics, reddit.com/r/baltimore, facebook groups, government corruption, illiteracy rates, crime maps, etc and decide for yourself whether what happens in Baltimore is "normal" for the US (let alone the entire world when there are many cities much bigger than Baltimore with a fraction of the crime).

APL space stuff sounds pretty good, but they move so slowly that 4 months notice isn't enough. I simply didn't have the time to wait for them.

Wait for them for what?

To respond to applications. Even when you have good leads it's 3 months to get a second round of interviews. I'm not so comfortable that I can choose to not work in between moves.

There's still lots of non Military / Fed stuff! And it's getting better.

https://www.sparkpost.com/ https://www.cloudtamer.io/ https://www.contrastsecurity.com/

A few off the top of my head. I'm currently working (remotely) for a BigCo that acquired my startup employer last year.

Technical.ly can be a good resource for local postings. I've worked as a SWE in Baltimore for 10 years and have never had employment issues. I don't quite make SV money, but I make solid 6 figures and can afford a very nice home on just my salary and send my kids to private school, etc.

If you (OP of the parent's parent) do interview in the area be sure to dig in to find what the company's lines of business are. CloudTamer, for instance, is ostensibly a commercial product-based company but does business with federal agencies and contractors (per their web site) and was at the AWS Public Sector Summit a few years ago. A different company that I interviewed at in an adjacent space (security vs CloudTamer's compliance) was in a similar position... they were selling their product to the Air Force but swore up and down that they'd never contract with them outside of being a vendor. I was skeptical and my suspicions were proven correct six months later when they put out a press release announcing the award of an Air Force contract.

Maryland/Northern Virginia are _not_ the places to be if you want career options outside of government [contracting] work. It's not un-doable but you'll be much better served looking for work in a place where 80% of the value of the economy doesn't revolve around Washington-type work.

Maryland/Northern Virginia are _not_ the places to be if you want career options outside of government [contracting] work.

While it's true that .gov work is huge in DC metro (and extending to Baltimore), there are MANY companies completely outside, or on the periphery, and even more if you just want to eliminate military jobs.

Amazon has large AWS offices, plus HQ2 is spinning up. Google and Microsoft both have substantial presences (albeit much of that is .gov work). Walmart has their innovation centre here (Walmart Labs?). Oracle. VW of A. Several universities. Smaller companies like Ellucian (my employer). Freddie and Fannie (.gov-adjacent). The list is long.

I would add that there are financial technical jobs at T Rowe Price, Legg Mason, Morgan Stanley etc. Not to mention that there are computer security jobs at those places where the stakes are high.

Oh yeah, info-sec jobs abound. Many are .gov consulting gigs, but lots of law firms, banks, and hospitals too.

And Capital One Bank has a massive complex in McLean/Tysons. It's not their HQ (which is in Richmond), but there has to be a few thousand employees here.

TBF, "Washington-type" work also includes journalism and NGOs, so it could be the place to live (along with NYC) if you want to do tech in either of those fields.

Can anyone give a perspective why is it the case? In Europe it seems impossible not to have commercial software positions in a big local hub city - and in US whole areas seem to be devoid of them as HN crowd implies.

It's because Washington, DC is the nation's capital and where our legislative bodies, heads of state, and our various departments (ministries) are based out of. There are also many military bases in close proximity and the military headquarters (Pentagon) is across the river in Virginia.

I think people are misinterpreting my comment... there _are_ non-defense/government jobs in the area but they are dwarfed by the number of such jobs because of the pervasive nature of the aforementioned entities. When I lived in the area more than 90% of LinkedIn recruiter messages that I got were about these jobs. This ceased being the case after I moved even when I was still in the defense contracting industry.

See my sibling comment. I think the OP overstated the lack of non-government jobs in the area. I've lived here (Dulles tech corridor) most of my life and work in non-government software.

There are quite a large number of well regarded universities and hospitals. In addition, Under Armour and a few other Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Baltimore.

Baltimore is a cool town. People have a perception of it based on national media, and don’t get me wrong, it has it’s share of issues, but every city does. It is one of the quirkiest, weirdest cities in the US. It is not quite a northern city and not quite southern either.

> It is not quite a northern city and not quite southern either.

That's because it is in the mid-atlantic!

Baltimore reminds me of DC ~20 years ago.

Columbia is 22 miles south of Baltimore, home to an entity sometimes known as The Fort. 40 miles south is DC if you want to work GovTech. TRowePrice has/had a datacenter in Owings Mills, 20-some miles northwest of Baltimore. CapitalOne has offices in Baltimore but HQ in Virginia. Constellation Energy (not sure what they're known as now) used to have a datacenter south of Baltimore as well. It's not SV or Boston or NYC, to be sure.

Our startup (Cortx) does natural language generation work, is located in Fells Point, and is currently hiring Machine Learning Engineers and Full Stack Engineers :)

I am living in Baltimore and work out of DC as an ML engineer. The commute sucks, but with because of covid, I have been WFH. DC has a lot of tech companies, but lots of connections to defense.

The county or the city? Do you take the MARC?

I am curious why someone would do this commute, it seems like there are lots of cheaper options closer to DC with their own semi-urban area.

You can buy a home in Baltimore near Penn station for pretty cheap. There's also a big difference between urban and semi urban

The city. I considered the MARC, but I have to go out to Herndon, VA and Fairfax, VA area so its just more convenient to drive. It's a tough commute at times, but a good podcast gets me through the drive. I have been WFH for all of 2020 an 2021, so now I just stay in Baltimore. WFH shift is working out great!

A lot of times the answer is a domestic partner working at one of the Baltimore hospitals

Yep, that's the case for me. The plausible choices for me personally are basically remote work, commuting to DC on MARC, or starting a company with a remote cofounder.

Sorry but what is the MIC?

Google has given me many music venues…


— left coaster

I’m not sure but I think it stands for military industrial complex.

Military Industrial Complex

What is there to do for tech work in seacoast NH? (And why would you leave?)

A fair amount for someone on the hardware side, surprisingly. Analog Devices and a mixed bag of test/measurement and signal integrity companies.

The answer is the one you would most likely guess: two body problem. We both miss NH quite a bit, but we're along for the ride until they finish their PhD.

It really gets better every year.

Amen to that! It's been exciting watching the city come back from 2015

I'm a lifelong resident, but I can't say I share your optimism. the per capita murder rate is still well above the worst years in the 90s, with 2019 setting an all time high. the population is still falling, rapidly in poorer neighborhoods but offset somewhat by growth in the wealthier ones. our current mayor has not been convicted of any crimes committed while in office (a low bar in other cities), but otherwise does not seem far from the standard fare. at least one key employer (t rowe) is hedging its bet with new offices outside the city limits. what exactly are you seeing improve? I guess it's a great time to sell property in the white L or be employed by the johns hopkins medical system, but other than that, I'm not seeing it.

I thought trowe was moving to harbor east?

My optimism is based on the consistent development in the L and it's expansion outwards. Hopkins medical will soon be connected to harbor east with the Perkins development. Station north continues to fill out. There's also been lots of development in federal hill and locust point.

The murder rate is indeed ridiculously high, but I think it will subside as more development happens in the city as there will be more opportunity available.

you're right about t rowe, I confused the story about them moving their main office (to harbor east) with the fact they've opened an office in owings mills. apparently the reason for the move is safety concerns downtown, which is still not a great look for the city, but whatever.

I'm not entirely sure how to feel about the expansion of the L. it's definitely good if you already live there (I do) and plan to stay (I hope to), and some of the areas being annexed are/were fairly close to hell on earth. it's not clear to me that the butterfly residents will benefit from the increased opportunities like you suggest; I think it's more likely they get gradually pushed out to less desirable parts of the county. but we'll see, and I'd rather be wrong!

So what you’re really saying, is that you’re happy with the results and rate of gentrification occurring.

Don’t take this as an insult or anything, it is what it is.

Gentrification is too broad of a word to mean anything. Baltimore has a glut of housing due to the massive population drop caused by white flight in the 70s.

Sadly the book thing had been in a mostly closed state for the past few years due to tax issues.

Luckily though greenmount is starting to clean up. Red Emma's is moving into the neighborhood soon as well

> And a worker-owned co-op coffeeshop that President Obama visited.

They're just exploiting the hard work of the coffee bushes. (And their customers since the product is addictive.)

I used to head out there annually for... convention stuff, but I quite liked the city when I was passing through. Conditions there seem to be improving rapidly, too!

Change my mind: "slashdotted" > "hugged to death"

Also notable is the Broad Museum in Los Angeles. Their guards are also docents, so you are encouraged to talk to them about the art and ask them questions. After experiencing this more human interaction, it was a bit of a shock for me to go down the street to the Museum of Contemporary Art, where I asked a guard a question and they flat out rejected my asking, haha!

Arts workers need to be paid well and also have enriching roles in the museums. And I don't think this sort of thing necessarily requires a 4-year degree or whatnot. I believe people are naturally curious, and we need to lean into that.

Docents are usually volunteers, so it's not like there are general budgeting concerns. There's also usually bodies to fill these positions since it's almost like a title/labor of love for someone who doesn't need the money or a resume builder for someone who does in the art world, where good paying jobs are hard to come by.

It must put a lot of pressure on a security guard to do double duty like that. What if someone defaces a Warhol while they're talking to someone else about it? I'm sure The Broad probably has redundant controls in place, but in general, you shouldn't really expect to be able to bother or distract security guards.

It's not about leaning into a person's natural curiosity; most museums take care of all the staff with regards to entrance & tours if requested. It's about liability, insurance, etc.

They don't produce anything of value, they provide a service that basically anyone can do. They're free to take the job or not take it. Who doesn't need to paid well in your utopia?

Everyone should be paid well, which imo means healthcare, retirement, and not crazy hours to pay for room and board. Utopia right?

Paid well is a relative concept. One is paid well relative to other people, who are not paid as much. "Everyone should be paid well" - yes, that is exactly the kind of deluded thinking that "Utopia" refers to.

Humans need food, water, and shelter to survive. One can define an absolute concept of "paid well" meaning that these needs are met within a 40-hour work week. It is sad to me that this goal is considered a utopia by many.

Most people would call that a liveable income - not "paid well".

Yes, though once you factor in expenses like healthcare or contingency savings — both of which are also arguably necessary for a secure life — the line becomes more blurry.

Healthcare should not be tied to employment. Basic retirement is already provided by Social Security. We can also improve the ability of people to afford room and board by lowering the cost of them, for example by letting people build more housing. Without increasing the supply, providing an ever-increasing amount of money to pay for something will only raise its price.

> by letting people build more housing

Are people not allowed to build houses currently?

In many places, no they are not.

This is peculiar because it treats security guards as humans and challenges unspoken hierarchy. It also implies the museum doesn't save on security (17 guards is a lot) and there isn't a big turnover (unless there's a special type of security guard that mostly works in museums). It's borderline unthinkable in the 5th roundest country in the world where I live. They would hire students.

I was hoping it would be more about burglaries, stealing famous works of arts, selling stolen works etc. The law enforcement / security perspective. Instead it appears to be a pretty standard exhibition except with an unusual method of selecting curators.

My dad used to be a security guard at the Cleveland Museum of Art. What's funny is that often guests would ask him and the other guards about specific pieces or artists as if he was a subject matter expert (although he has always been an art enthusiast, he doesn't have a professional art background). Eventually, he started doing his own background reading, because he really enjoyed these conversations.

After years of viewing exhibits (both permanent and temporary), many on the non-curator staff do end up with a substantially deep view of the art that they protect. This exhibit should be really fascinating.

> This is peculiar because it treats security guards as humans and challenges unspoken hierarchy.

I still find it a bit condescending / annoying. I read things like "offering a particularly human-centered lens through which to consider the objects" as let the plebs have their night out once in a while. They'll still get "mentored" by curators apparently, so it's not like they're just using their understanding to pick, they'll probably get brainwashed a bit.

One interesting experiment would be to put a button / ticket scanner near each artwork and ask the visitors to vote on what they liked. Maybe give them a theme and ask them to pick 2-3 pieces of art that matched that theme and put an exhibition on at the end of a month or so with the most picked works.

I don't completely disagree with what you're saying regarding the text, but as a person who loves the arts but doesn't work in it, I would appreciate speaking to a bona fide curator if I was asked to partake in an exhibition.

Sure, there is a chance of your so-called brainwashing (influence, in more generous terms), but an exhibition benefits from coherence and thought-out message.

I think their selection makes sense. The day-to-day experience of a guard at a museum is to tell people to stand a bit farther away and not take photos (in some galleries). What would be more interesting is if they channeled their long presence among artworks, and their ability to observe crowds and their transience.

Hello there in Poland : )

Indeed, in the US, there are museum guards who only work in museums. Sometimes, they are called docents. As with most things in the states, however, there is a lot of regional variation.

What's especially interesting here is that an organisation is treating its employees like human beings, as you said. It would be weird for any museum here to say, "I think people would like to know what our employees appreciate in art." Not weird in that it's unthinkable; weird in that it just never happens that way in the States.

> (17 guards is a lot)

and that's just the ones that wanted to partake

I would assume a place like that would have security 24/7. 24×7/40=4.2 Security Guards.

It's not much more than 1 watching cameras and 3 rovers.

They also need people to physically stop the more annoying visitors from touching/licking/poking the exhibits, among other things.

This is really fun IMO. The article makes a point that the security guards probably know the art pieces better than most people since they are constantly patrolling and looking around. Plus it gives them a chance to have some fun curating the collection.

What interests me is it's not just the pieces they know well: it's the audiences. I am a huge fan of analytics and user testing because it helps me understand the experiences of the people I'm building for. I would love to hear how the guards think about art in terms of the zillion people they've seen react to it.

yea definitely, it will be super interesting to here the "why" behind their selections. Is it because they know its a big crowd pleaser, or do they like the piece for personal reasons. That will be fun to know.

I would imagine they must be building that in, or it just becomes a random collection of art.

I could walk around Guernica or la Joconde all day for years and I wouldn't grasp their significance and values without external insights. Only their aesthetics and at a non historic level.

Sure but the guards likely overhear all the external insights given out in tours and when subject matter experts see and discuss the piece.

The security staff isn't building the exhibit in a vacuum. They're working alongside professional curators.

You refuse to read the explainer plaques?

Maybe, but I would be open to seeing what insights they come up on their own. I think that's the great thing about art - there's no right way to interpret it, and I wouldn't assume that guards are only capable of appraising on aesthetic level. The article also cited it would be done in collaboration with other folks from the museum, so I think it's going to be well done / may surprise you.

i mean, the primary aesthetics of guernica are "it's BIG" and "war is bad". i suspect you can pick up on those broad themes on your own.

Art is not a formalism only. Knowing that Guernica was the location of one (maybe the) first bombing of civilians, or how it was protected, insured during the covil war, or why (as there were before) there are 2 guys with rifles guarding it, all adds to understand the artwork. Some of these things cannot be learned from staring at the artwork.

If anybody ever visits Washington D.C., it's very easy to get overwhelmed with the world class Smithsonian and National Gallery museums (amongst the dozens of others). But I highly recommend taking the time to go to Baltimore and visiting this museum as well as the nearby Walters Art Museum, both also very very good museums.

Other great places for awesome museums within a day-drive of D.C.:

Richmond, VA - Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Dulles, VA - Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum

Various National Battlefields sprinkled all over the area

A bit further out, but possible in a day and easily world class, the Philadelphia Museum of Art

For any art aficionados visiting Baltimore, I'd also recommend the American Visionary Art Museum, a fantastic experience. https://www.avam.org/

Came here to say the same thing. It's a brilliantly wonderful place.

Also in DC, don't forget the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. It's one of my favorite modern art museums in the world, and I live 20 minutes from it. I don't go anywhere near often enough.

When I'm in DC for a conference at the convention center, part of my breakfast routine is a walk to the Sculpture Garden at the Hirshhorn with a take-out breakfast. I always make a point to listen to the Sunset Song exhibit through at least once.

> Hirshhorn Museum

One of the best in DC, although it is currently closed.

And while one is in that general area, don't miss a visit to Glenstone [1], a superb combination of art, architecture, and modern museum in the Potomac area, just west of D.C.

While the art collection is fantastic (hosted in an older set of gallery buildings by Charles Gwathmey, and a newer building by Thomas Phifer and Partners), the huge park it's located in makes it a particularly unique experience, featuring permanent outdoor pieces by the likes of Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Serra, and Michael Heizer.

I've been to many of the art and science museums in D.C. and Baltimore, but Glenstone is my favourite.

[1] https://www.glenstone.org/

After 10+ years in the area, I just discovered a few weeks ago that this place exists while looking at a map to plan a bike ride. I couldn't believe that some of what's there is from the same world class artists that I saw at the Guggenheim in Spain (Jeff Koons, Richard Serra). I thought for sure Google Maps was playing a trick on me since no friends have ever mentioned it and I certainly haven't been. It's now on my shortlist of places to check out when the weather cools off a bit.

Note that those Smithsonian museums are all free. It was weird growing up here -- in most other places, you're expected to pay for museums.

The Walters and Baltimore Art Museum are also free.

Note that Udvar-Hazy is in the slightly odd position that it's technically free but parking is $15. It's very far from downtown, and driving is pretty much the best way there. But the exhibits are beyond cool -- a Space Shuttle, a Concorde, a Blackbird, and a ton of other very cool aircraft.

As a fellow person who grew up in DC, it definitely spoils you - I feel surprised every time I have to pay for a museum, especially because the prices are often so high !

Since this is HN, I can wholeheartedly recommend the National Cryptologic Museum (between DC and Baltimore, pay really good attention to the signs so you don't make a wrong turn and having an awkward interaction with NSA Police). In addition to math stuff, there's a lot of exhibits on the history of computing that is kept pretty well up to date (when I went ~5 years ago they already had a display talking about Heartbleed).

My vacations in the before times were to go to Europe to copy paintings. I sometimes spend a week at an institution just copying paintings, so I get to know the guards. So many of them are spectacular artists in their own right.

In my utopian vision of the world, museum guards are given rolling pedestals and pencils and told to roam the galleries copying. They can pay attention to what's going on around them and draw.

The result is that we have people there to answer questions and make sure nothing bad happens, but also is someone who's just getting better and better at drawing and painting. Then that person can become a great artist in their own right.

Our society's reward is an enormous amount of people who can paint really well. Murals everywhere. Good paintings everywhere.

I love your utopian vision, seconded. In fact, something like this would boost the economy ever so slightly, creating a new source of skilled productivity. Guards with new skills would gain the option of becoming illustrators, likely slightly but perhaps noticeably increasing the supply of illustrators available to lend their services to new projects.

This is an excellent idea. The guards are doubtlessly more in touch with the culture of the common people of Baltimore than the professional curators could hope to be.

Interestingly, I see the value in what you are proposing, but also the value in the different points of view and challenging artworks that the curators present. A gallery and museum can conform to local tastes, and also challenge them for the better. Maintaining a balance between those two ambitions is how you end up with museums and galleries that are woven into a local area and art scene, honouring local history and culture while fostering the vital energy required for dynamic and creative art.

At the very least, they will have perspectives and sensibilities which are possibly representative of a different group of people that can be enlightening and can broaden the interests of regular museum goers.

Its nice to see my city on the front page, for a good reason.

They will probably pick some pieces that have repeated viewing quality. Most pieces become boring after seeing them day in day out. The ones they still enjoy after seeing them daily are something special. Looking forward to see the list.

A few years ago I was in Baltimore for a conference at Johns Hopkins. Decided to visit the museum. I was blown away by how good it is, and it's completely free. Definitely recommend it if you're ever in Baltimore.

I think guards are in a really interesting position. Art curators are going to have inherit biases that are pretty hard to get past: It takes a certain kind of person to become one in the first place, and they're inherently affected by the state of the modern art world by being plugged in and a part of it as part of their job.

A guard, on the other hand, will probably not have any of these biases, while being exposed to far more art than the general public on an incidental basis. I wonder how many picked he job because of an existing love of art, vs just being a job?

Maybe a few?

"The group reflects a broad range of backgrounds and interests with officers who are also artists, chefs, musicians, scholars, and writers."

I love this!

Something similar is the Archibald Prize's 'Packing Room Prize'.

The award is chosen by the gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries, with 52 per cent of the vote given to head packer Brett Cuthbertson. [0]

It's almost as prestigious as winning the main prize!

[0] https://www.broadsheet.com.au/national/art-and-design/articl...

Recently visisted a "staff show" at Pace Gallery, in which the entire staff (assistants, front desk, archivists, art handlers, ...) was invited to submit their own art.

It seems to have done well!


This is fantastic. I hope it's paired with a livable wage.

The job posting [1] doesn't cite a pay range, but judging by the benefits I'd expect it to be at least halfway decent. Hell, I've never worked a job that paid hourly and had benefits half so good.

[1] https://s3.amazonaws.com/artbma/documents/jobs/2018-Security...

>about ways to fulfill the museum’s commitment to be more diverse, more inclusive, and more representative of the community it serves.

A truly innovative and interesting DEI initiative. I hope we see more of this elsewhere.

Key quote:

>In addition, the team is working with renowned art historian and curator Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims, who is providing additional mentorship and professional development.

In art as in politics - nothing says grassroots like the additional mentorship and professional development by a renowned establishment member.

Reminds me of the movie The Maiden Heist [1] where three museum security guards become attached to the artworks they guard.

[1] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1107860/

Similar project from 2020 at MoMA: https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/5203

Ha I know a few people that work at BMA and two of the security guards (Rob and Dom) were on the same pool league team as me. If y'all see this whats up

Smaltimore home sweet home

I was a guard at the BMA when I was in university - great group of people, this is a wonderful idea.

I would love to see an exhibition curated by CLIP, an OpenAI neural net connecting text and images.

That's called full-stack.

I should have said - if they can also paint, that's full stack right there!

That reminds me, I really need to watch Pink Flamingos by John Waters.

It’s cool but it feels a little noblesse oblige which I thought was a faux pas in the US? I thought you’re not supposed to acknowledge class boundaries?

Interesting take!

The US is a very big place, closer to the European Union than it is generally portrayed. And, within the US, each city is its own complex ecosystem (as all cities are).

In Baltimore, class boundaries and class-related issues are common discussion points. It is often painted in racial terms (especially to outside audiences), but it's pretty widely acknowledged from the inside that the racial issue is primarily a class issue. I think being a majority-black democratic city helps make this frank acknowledgement possible.

Baltimore also has some relatively old (in US terms) institutions that inherit some class politics from "the Old World." There is very much a "Johns Hopkins" subclass with its own rules of aristocracy...along with other institutions founded around the same time like Peabody Conservatory. In part because housing is cheaply available, Baltimore has a thriving arts scene, supported by a number of different colleges and universities, but especially MICA.

"The Wire" is a pretty good investigation of the class system in Baltimore in many respects, although I think it's a bit dated now. In particular, the Port City crowd often gets left out of casual conversation, but it's still a powerful force in the city.

This is very partial list, just trying to give a sense that there's a lot of awareness and acknowledgement of class within the city. The rules of conduct between the various groups are very, very different. More obviously so than in most other places that I've lived.

There is a pretty healthy tech/entrepreneur environment in Baltimore too, that lives sort of at the place where the various class-groups wash into each-other.

I agree with what you’re saying. The white blue collar “bawlmer” types are as critical to the culture of the city as our black population. I think the two groups have a nice symbiotic relationship in a way.

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