guarding the art baltimore museum of art

Baltimore Museum of Art's new exhibit was curated by the security officers.

Seventeen security officers at Baltimore Museum of Art now have the added title of "guest curators" for an inclusive (rather than exclusive) new exhibit called “Guarding The Art.”

It was a full-scale hands-on project: The security team worked with professional art historian and curator Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims to not only research and select pieces, but to weigh in on nearly every aspect of the exhibit, from installation details to scheduling tours. And each participant received compensation for their time in addition to the creative opportunity.

The collection was intentionally designed to be eclectic and personal. No genre, style or medium was off limits (works range from a sixth century pre-Columbian sculpture to a protest collage made in 2021) and the officers all brought other unique aspects of their lives into the mix, such as being a published poet, bartender, dog walker, chef, philosophy major and, yes, even a painter, to name a few wonderful examples. We aren’t just our day jobs, after all.


The guards’ more personal approach helped breathe new life into art appreciation. Dr. Sims told NPR, "I was so energized and enthused to hear these extraordinary reactions to art. It was so beyond the art-speak that I'm used to. It was fresh, immediate, and perceptive."

baltimore museum of art

"Evening Glow" by Alma W. Thomas made the "Guarding The Art" list, according to CBS News.

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When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Museum security guards spend upwards of eight hours a day, multiple days a week, next to the pieces we tend to walk by after about 20 seconds. Who better to curate the art than those who spend the most time with it?

And yet, these workers are often treated as unapproachable, invisible fixtures of the museum itself. Certainly not fellow humans.

"I think some visitors just don't even know we exist, to be honest," security team member Chris Koo told CBS News. "A lot of us hope that more visitors will ask us and have conversations with us about the art, rather than asking us where the bathroom is. We are kinda shadows of the museum."

security guards curate museum exhibit

Koo chose the visually bold works of Mark Rothko. Example above.

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Asma Naeem, the museum's head curator, told CNN/CBS, "It’s a simple idea, but it's asking some very profound questions about who is art for? Who are museums for? Who gets to talk about the arts? Who holds the knowledge? Are there other kinds of people who have knowledge about art that we want to be hearing from? And the answer is: yes, absolutely. This show overall is telegraphing to the public, art is for everyone.”

This unspoken separation is what gave Naeem and board of trustees member Amy Elias the idea in the first place. “Guarding the Art” was a chance to bring more diversity into the art conversation and be more representative of the community the museum serves.

Now museum-goers will have all the more reason to invite some friendly chat with the guards standing next to the pieces. BMA hopes that other museums will follow suit in an effort to encourage that ever-powerful ingredient found in so many great works of art: a bid for human connection.

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

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