I was delighted to read about the upcoming Baltimore Museum of Art exhibit, “Guarding the Art” (”‘Groundbreaking’ BMA exhibit won’t be the last of its kind,” July 29).
Growing up in a family with six children, family outings meant weekly visits to the public library and periodic visits to museums. Not only were the excursions free — a good fit for our zero entertainment budget — but they were invaluable in opening my very narrow world to diverse experiences and perspectives.
One cherished visit still sparkles in my memory many decades later. When I was 11, I yearned for a summer adventure beyond my books and neighborhood. My dear sister Jane, home from college in Kansas, took my best friend and me to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. A kind security guard, noting our excitement, curated a personal treasure hunt from the collection that perfectly suited our youthful, bubbly curiosity. Following the meticulous clues he scribbled on a scrap of paper, we navigated the maze of rooms to the selected paintings, finding the horse with eyes that followed us around the gallery and all 23 bugs in the elegant still life arrangement. It was a magical day that flew by in the thrill of the quest, starting a lifetime of joyful art museum visits that I passed on to my two adult children.
Kudos to Christopher Bedford and the BMA for recognizing the security staff as seasoned observers of fine art and encouraging them to create the upcoming exhibit with support from esteemed curators. Breaking free of narrowly-defined roles, valuing both education and lived experiences, and encouraging diverse collaborations are essential to creating a more equitable and inclusive Baltimore.
I regret that I never had the chance to thank the smart security guard who inspired that treasured memory. I hope the BMA profiles the security guards and their insights on the pieces selected. I look forward to the exhibit and, hopefully, an opportunity to thank the guards who created it.
Eileen O’Rourke Baltimore
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