When I began working as the security supervisor for the Fashion Museum, I didn’t anticipate a pandemic; that’s a level of “paranoia” I had yet to reach in the security business. Shortly after starting at Kent, however, I was thrown for the quarantine loop. Precautions such as masks and walkways are now necessities in this new normal. Museums are not exempt from these safety measures, but that is not all they require. I’ve come to learn that museums need people as much as people need museums. And protecting their valuable collections from the degradation of time is a full-time job.
Many businesses have closed their doors to the public and our museum was not exempt. What I had not expected was how much this building needs visitor. The humidity is all off; those doors should be opening. temperatures must be controlled; the museum likes it cool. Not just that but leaks must be mended, and general upkeep must be maintained in order to ensure that when the doors can open to the public again, the museum looks her best. Call me lackadaisical but I had not realized how many things kept a building running. However, I had to adapt and so I took on the responsibilities required of me. I didn’t know it to start but my duties include keeping this building company until at least the visitors come back.
It’s been surreal and a little strange. With so much of campus closed, the emptiness is palpable. Yet already we have made plans to reopen. Planning procedures which will, on that day, allow people to come and visit safely. The new normal is something we’re all adjusting to but it won’t stop us from enjoying the culture and voices of artists once again.
A wonderful thing I’ve noticed is that this museum means so much to our students. Even with the doors locked, many recent graduates come by and pose in cap and gown, displaying their diplomas. They care about this place, its memories and what it’s meant to them.
The quarantine hasn’t all been deep reflections though! I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Stella, the museum’s lone ghost (as far as they’ve told me). The paranormal is something I know way more about than fashion, so that’s a subject I’m much more comfortable speaking about. besides a few flickering lights now and then, I can safely say I feel welcomed. Maybe it’s just because I’m a naturally quiet person, but I think Stella likes me… or at least tolerates me.
It hasn’t been the most typical introduction to a new job, but when has typical ever been worthwhile? And as I count the days until I can welcome people back, I’ll continue to keep the building (and Stella) company.
–John Puntel, Security Supervisor