Job Opportunity

August 5 2014

Image of Job Opportunity

Picture: Guardian

A reader alerts me to the fact that the private sector security company CIS is advertising for vacancies at the National Gallery, London. The 3 month post, to begin in October this year, requires:

  • Protection of Art works
  • Cash handling
  • Provide visitors with advice, guidance and information, answering any questions and queries
  • To demonstrate sensitivity to cultural, social and physical differences; treat everyone as an individual and with dignity and respect; use language that does not cause offence
  • Assist in the evacuation during an emergency and ensure the safety of the visitors and others
  • Report faults and defects to management
  • Provide assistance to all visitors with their access needs around the Galleries
  • Assist with the visitor flow, especially when large groups are visiting the Galleries
  • Gain knowledge of the current exhibition

The start date must presumably mean that the post is to guard the forthcoming Rembrandt exhibition, which opens on 15th October. Curiously, the qualifications required do not include any experience in guarding fine art or museums, but you will need 'an SIA Door Supervisor licence'. Those are the things bouncers wear on their arms outside nightclubs. 

As alarming as all this sounds, I suspect that it's a pragmatic attempt by the Gallery to make sure the Rembrandt show passes off without disruption from in-house security staff, some of whom have displayed a 1970s style enthusiasm for going on strike. While I don't doubt that many security staff at the Gallery are dedicated and hard-working (though I've been on the end of an unjustified tongue-lashing more than once), the real culprit here is the PCS union to which many of the staff belong. The PCS sees the Gallery as an easy way to grab headlines, often calling strikes to target high-profile shows like the Leonardo exhibition in 2011/12. We can be sure that the Rembrandt show will be similarly busy, so I can see that the Gallery's outsourcing is sensible planning. There'll be hell to pay if anyone stabs a painting though.

Update - a reader writes:

Well the Gallery certainly doesn't need extra security at the moment. It's more than six weeks since the Veronese closed, the height of the tourist season, and, on the main floor of the main building - closed, closed, closed.

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