Eyes wide open
Almost imperceptible to visitors, carefully disguised in plain clothes, our attendants are always in the thick of things. Captivated by the world of art, visitors occasionally wander insouciantly through the exhibitions with large bags and rucksacks until gently awoken from their reverie by an attendant sporting the unobtrusive “Kunsthaus Zurich” insignia, who politely points out that their luggage is a danger to the art on display.
In no time the offending item is deposited in the museum cloakroom. And the clearly relieved art lover can continue on his or her journey unhampered, whilst the “guard” fades into the background. Nonetheless, if a visitor, be they a Kunsthaus regular or a tourist, in a wheelchair or disabled, seeks advice then the attendants have an answer and are always there to lend a hand in a crisis and offer advice, explain, guide or help. They are at the front line of contact with visitors to the museum – ready to assist in many different languages, straightforward, friendly and professional.
They rotate sectors, pass through full and empty rooms always ready to react instantly and do what is necessary in the case of alarm….
It does happen – seldom, but it does happen – that an alarm is triggered! A shrill note pierces the stillness of the halls. Attendants immediately reach for their pagers, examine the info on display, and then they’re off! They rush to the scene of the crime, where the would-be thief is removing the picture. Other attendants are guarding the automatically locked doors. A hectic rush to action behind the scenes too: security personnel and restorers hurry to the scene of the alarm, where together with the attendants they are ready to apprehend the villain.
“I just wanted to stroke the bronze dog by Alberto Giacometti”, comes the plaintive cry as the startled visitor suddenly surrounded.
All clear! The main doors are unlocked and the visitors shut out can now enter once again whilst those locked in are free to leave.
What a contrast with the day-to-day situation:
You receive a friendly greeting from the ticket attendant who also provides information.
Always ready to catch a quizzical look, to give written or spoken information, they stand at the ticket counter or the entrance to an exhibition. So it is that visitors caught in two minds or a little hesitant can quickly and easily find their way around the museum either into an exhibition or to the artist of their choice.
With a friendly gesture he or she will also direct the visitor (with umbrella and coat) to the cloakroom, where everything can be left which has no place in the museum. Everything from light jackets, small and large bags, suitcases and rucksacks to bags full of shopping can be deposited here. Light or heavy, small or large everything disappears behind the counter of the attended cloakroom.
This is the real nuts and bolts work, and it isn’t always as easy as it looks.
Rainy days are museum days and often a test of patience for visitors and cloakroom attendants alike as visitors crowding into the building to escape the inclement weather besiege the cloakroom, anxious to deposit their wet things as quickly as possible and enjoy a stroll through the exhibitions.
On days like this the hooks and hangers are all quickly taken and life is made that much more difficult and hectic for the attendants. Yet despite the rush the friendly and professional staff still find time to provide information and tips and wish visitors a pleasant and rewarding stay.
Impatient visitors, on the other hand, drag their belongings along with them into the exhibition – which brings us back to the beginning again.
It just shows how important and wide-ranging the work of our attendants is in all areas.