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Surprising Portraits of Museum Guardians in Russia

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Stroganov Palace, Russian State Museum

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Matisse Still Life, Hermitage Museum

In Russia, museum guardians are not the usual security men. Traditionally, it is older women guarding the works of art, sitting all day on a chair while looking at the visitors. It’s this that caught American photographer Andy Freeberg‘s eye. “I found the guards as intriguing to observe as the pieces they watch over,” he says. His Guardians series captures the interplay between art and these devoted guardians themselves.

It takes devotion and a certain kind of determination to do this work, and the reasons why these women take on such a job vary. “In conversation, they told me how much they like being among Russia’s great 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. Another guard travels three hours each day 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,” says the photographer in his statement.

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Malevich’s Self Portrait, Russian State Museum

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Statues of Antonius Pius, Youth and Caryatid, Hermitage Museum

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Konchalovsky’s Family Portrait, State Tretyakov Gallery

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Petrov-Vodkin’s Bathing of a Red Horse, State Tretyakov Gallery

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Michelangelo’s Moses and the Dying Slave, Pushkin Museum

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Kugach’s Before the Dance, State Tretyakov Gallery

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