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Guardians

Andy Freeberg goes to art museums to observe not the art but the people who guard it.

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One guardian bears an uncanny resemblance to a Vermeer subject, another has pink hair that nearly matches her dress. These women are the focus of "Guardians: Russian Art Museum Guards," a dryly humorous, but also heartwarming collection of photographs taken in various Russian galleries. It gives us pause to contemplate the lives of these women and how they relate to the artwork on display. In fact, the artwork becomes peripheral as the focus settles upon these comfortably seated, musing characters.

On his Web site, Freeberg offers tidbits about these guardians of art. "A woman in Moscow's State Tretyakov Gallery Museum said she often returns there on her day off to sit in front of a painting that reminds her of her childhood home," he writes. "Another guard travels three hours each way to work, since at home she would just sit on her porch and complain about her illnesses, 'as old women do.' She would rather be at the museum enjoying the people watching, surrounded by the history of her country."

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The collection is currently on display at the Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Ore. Perhaps someone else will take the next step and capture the guardians of Freeberg's art.

All images (c) Andy Freeberg.