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    Members of gallery staff using iPhones when on duty; there’s no app for that

    Flickr: Hello Turkey Toe
    I don’t consider myself much of an art critic or a snobby superior connoisseur of culture, but on a recent visit to the Henry Moore Institute and the Leeds City Museum, I couldn’t help but feel annoyed by the persistent and inappropriate use of mobile phones. It wasn’t, however, a question of fellow visitors arranging meetings or discussing a night out (we’re all used to that by now, sadly). It was a question of every single member of staff playing on their mobile while manning their posts around the exhibitions. 
    I know I’m probably being a little naïve, but I’ve always liked to think that the people who work in museums and galleries are interested in history and art, just as I like to think that people who work in libraries or bookshops might be vaguely interested in literature. I realise that even the greatest and most thought-provoking of sculptures would probably lose its awe and wonder after you had looked at it from the same seat for 4 hours, but is it really appropriate to show your lack of interest by playing Angry Birds on your Iphone? It certainly didn’t inspire me to ask them any questions about the exhibits – after all I wouldn’t have wanted to interrupt their concentration. In some cases this concentration on their phones was so intense I could have put a sculpture under my arm and walked out with it. I couldn’t help but wonder what the ancient Egyptian priest Nesyamun would have made of it if he’d known the bloke guarding his 3000 year old mummified body was texting his mates to make arrangements for a night out in the pub. 
    Is this all too judgemental and middle class of me? No doubt after sitting next to a mummy/ancient Greek urn day in day out, I too would also fancy a quick Facebook update or a browse on itunes. My friend, who has a physically demanding job in manufacturing, said he’d be delighted to have a job where he got paid for sitting on a chair and using his iphone. But I like places like this precisely because they offer a respite from all that. I think there is only one thing for it, and that’s for me to invent a Curator app that disguises your phone as a book on fine art. At least then visitors won’t have to contemplate great works of art with the sound of the Bubble Wrap game in the background. 

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    Reader Comments (3)

    I think you'll find most security guards keeping an eye on things in art galleries have about as much interest in the product as a security guard in a bank has about derivatives and debt rating agencies.

    That said, playing games while at work is totally unacceptable.

    May 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIanVisits

    I remember being both amused and annoyed by the guards in a gallery in Florence actually standing in front of the paintings and talking loudly about football.

    May 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHarriet Smart

    As someone who spent a summer working at the National Gallery in Edinburgh, I can confirm that that vast majority of the staff couldn't care less about the works on display. I did - being an recently graduated art student - but that doesn't take away from the fact that supervising the galleries is one of the most mind-numbingly tedious jobs on Earth. Have a little sympathy for those trying to relieve the boredom by checking their Facebook.

    November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDandy Highwayman

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