I can easily spend hours wandering museum galleries – viewing Art, artifacts and people – it’s all fascinating. More likely than not every other room I’ll pass an ever present museum guards, usually efficient, sometimes friendly. Always in uniform. The directors of The Broad Museum in L.A. are viewing this important role in a new light. Dressed eclectically in black with red lanyard IDs, the VSAs (Visitor Service Associates) are well-trained crosses between guard and guide. Their knowledge and friendly delivery creates a concierge museum experience, which seems especially appropriate for a private collection museum.
Guard Sabrina Gizzo might easily be mistaken for a docent. She’s talking with some visitors about Thomas Struth’s huge color photograph of a crowd at a museum in Florence Italy. In the photo, tourists are dressed in summer clothes — shorts, T-shirts, caps, sneakers. Struth photographs the crowd facing us, looking up at something we can’t see. As Los Angeles visitors to The Broad study Struth’s photograph — a museum crowd looking at another museum crowd — one Broad visitor notices that a man in the photograph is wearing sunglasses clipped to the front of his shirt. Gizzo suggests that her guest take a very close look at the sunglasses.Why? Turns out, if you look closely, a famous statue can be seen in the reflection of the man’s glasses: Michelangelo’s sculpture of David.
I’ve looked at Struth’s photograph several times and never noticed the reflection until now. Once Sabrina Gizzo points it out, our pleasure in the artwork deepens.
Gizzo is one of 110 gallery guides — they’re called visitor services associates — that Broad Director Joanne Heyler installed in the museum. Here’s her thinking: “What could be better and more individualized than having floor staff in the gallery posted right there next to the artwork, of whom you could, as a visitor, ask questions to indulge your curiosity, to have an interesting conversation?”
Thanks to NPR for bringing this story to our attention. Read the entire story here.