The museum guard — a short story from a Sunday afternoon in the giant bathtub called Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

The one museum item nobody came for and everybody forgot was standing in the corner of room number five and looked at the visitors as a hungry lion waiting for a crippled zebra. It was the museum guard.

His Magnum Viper Pro 10.2 limited edition boots (7% better grip on museum floors) and LED Lenser X21.R.20 flashlight with advanced focus system (enough for a week of power wipeout) had been carefully polished and his hair was tightly combed back.

His eyes were all over the room. Eyes in which you could still see the pain of the too fast transformation of visitors with big camera’s towards visitors with tiny phones.

Sigh, those old camera’s, the huge flashes they gave, the fright on their owner’s faces after they made their unintended mistake, how he addressed them severely, NO FLASH!

He loved it. Sometimes he just coughed, pointed to the sign, and gave them a destructive look. He was a master at that. He gave them ‘the look’ as his colleagues had named it. The look was something he came up with and many other museum guards worldwide now used as well.

Actually, he was pretty sure he had invented the look. He smiled, thinking about how much value he had added to his profession.

Maybe he would receive an award for it one day. A Nobel prize would be just fine. Then, the world would finally know. Kids no longer would answer astronaut, pilot of firefighter when they were asked about their future. Museum guard it would be.

Speaking about kids, what is that? No! Two kids enter from room number four. No parents. Ten seconds waiting procedure.

Eight, nine… Parents. Sh!t. No action yet.

On the left, a man, fifty-something, nose 43.4 centimeters from the canvas. Come on, 3.4 centimeters closer!

F*ck, man wants to see the big picture. Head goes backward.

12 o’clock. Young couple. Boy kisses girl her cheek. Allowed. His hand goes slowly down her back. Allowed. Almost touching her ass. Grey area.

Out of the room. Almost!

Wait, what is that? Man on the right. Such a wide smile in front of artwork number twenty-seven? No one likes that one. Suspicious level three. Smile has gone. Suspicious level one.

Time for another strategy. Procedure 67.2. Handbook for Museum Guards 2016, second edition. A total random route, with in the third room an abrupt stop and the same route back.

Malicious visitors who tried to figure out his regular habits would not stand a chance.


Thank you for being my audience.