Andy Freeberg’s uncanny portraits of Russian museum guards

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Yuri Kugach’s “Before the Dance,” State Tretyakov Gallery, 2009.
From the Guardians series © Andy Freeberg

In the art museums of Russia, women sit in the galleries and guard the collections. When you look at the paintings and sculptures, the presence of the women becomes an inherent part of viewing the artwork itself. I found the guards as intriguing to observe as the pieces they watch over.
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.
— Andy Freeberg
See and read more about Freeberg’s current exhibition, Guardians, at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.