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Museum update: Indianapolis Museum of Art makes a boo-boo

Late last month the Indianapolis Museum of Art announced the firing of 56 security officers. This is only the latest in a long line of museum closures and firing sprees, but IMA is unique in that it plans to fill the now vacant positions with students at a slightly lower salary. Before we get to that, let’s take a look at IMA’s security program as it stands now. Even with the 56 security officers, the museum was unable to meet their objectives, like “responding to potentially serious incidents that arise on the IMA campus” and reducing costs. From their website: “The IMA has a reputation for being a safe place. Regrettably, we’d seen some incidents that could threaten that reputation.  We’ve had numerous car break-ins, and we had been unable to curb that problem.”

So if 56 officers weren’t able to deal with potentially serious incidents, how is the new security set-up that includes 14 campus security guys and “visitor assistants” going to cut it? Have you seen a typical visitor assistant? It’s a grandma with a name tag. But this is where the students comes in. Hired through a work program with Purdue, these students, who are technically not replacing the security officers but still serve as one of the prongs in IMA’s new three-prong security system, will fight crime with “enhanced customer service” and their ability to “answer questions or assist visitors.” So in the unlikely event that someone tries to steal a painting, a crew of assistant will be on hand to answer any questions the thief might have about the artist’s intent or the painting’s historical context. Here’s a better idea: maybe one of the new slightly underpaid students can work with IMA’s publicity department.