Cultural workers always have an answer. Ask a museum curator any question and you’ll always get an answer. It might not have anything to do with the question, it will be long-winded, but don’t cut them off and ruin their moment. We never do that at DGs B&B.
A nice couple stayed in the Gallery Suite. The man was mid-thirties, the woman a little older, maybe fifty. They loved the décor and the art pieces.
I asked how he liked the room. He said:
“I felt the way I did when I first saw my career track. The moment I saw the stick I knew what I wanted to be. A precise museum donor explained how it was the last branch from a tree birds roosted on before flying to Noah’s Ark. I listened carefully, in training, while the curator nodded his head. I practiced nodding my head like a museum man.
“Later, a woman came in wearing Sitting Bull’s war bonnet. She stood at least six foot three, Sitting Bull’s top feathers adding another foot. I don’t know how tall Sitting Bull was, but it’s not a tall sounding name. The bonnet made anyone a giant.
“When she handed it to me I noticed an Army helmet liner under the war bonnet. I imagined the advantages of the chin strap when the tribe hit the warpath. I nodded my head.
“After my successful trial by fire I started going on ‘pick ups.’ I picked up loaned things for exhibits, donated things for the permanent collections, and missed a couple of things because they were too big.
“Good luck made a difference.
“While improperly lifting the bust of a pioneering orchestra conductor, one person supporting the head while the other lifted the pedestal, we followed a janitor across a concert hall lobby. The strain of the lift popped the bust loose which suddenly launched into the air. The pedestal, suddenly heavier, went the other way.
“My partner in art balanced the pedestal at the last moment using his back not his knees, while I circled under the head for a basket catch on a pop-up. The janitor led the way without looking back.
“Since establishing a high level of trust with the museum staff, I started moving paintings. It might not sound like much but popping a loose canvas doesn’t help art anymore than breaking a statue. No one wants a trail of paint flakes leading to storage like Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs in the forest. It takes extra caution to get it right, or luck.
“A large painting, seven feet across, hung on a stairway wall and needed to rotate to the front of the museum. If we could move a statue, we could move the painting. We lifted it off the wall but the cable hung up. We tried again and it didn’t move. We needed a ladder on the stairway. So we tried again, lifting the painting and pulling away from the wall. It was still stuck.
“We released it and looked at each other, silently urging the other one to get the ladder and climb. I shrugged my shoulders, extending my hands. The other guy did the same. Something snapped behind the painting and it fell into our outstretched hands. We carried it away like nothing just happened, being careful not to shake or pop the canvas.
“The square grand piano on the coast tested every museum skill I’d learned. It seemed like a good addition and the donor said they had a clear path to a door. And I had directions.
“My route took me out of the coastal town and into the foothills. I turned a corner on a county road and saw a fence with two cows on the wrong side. A woman with a broom herded them out of the road toward an open gate. The address on the house near the fence matched my directions.
“After chasing the cows around the corner twice I finally got them behind the gate. I handed the broom to the woman and she invited me into her house as if driving cattle was all part of a normal work day.
“The square grand piano sat in a corner opposite a chest-on-chest that took up a whole wall. The only clear door in the house was out the front and down the splintered steps. A refrigerator blocked the side door in the kitchen. I took the piano apart and it was still too heavy.
“The Noah’s Ark stick, Sitting Bull’s war bonnet and the square grand piano didn’t make the museum’s permanent collection, but each is full of faith and trust and peculiar music that makes you lightheaded if you listen hard enough.
“If you can’t hear it, don’t worry, just shrug and stick your hands out, something always falls into them.”
He signed the guest book on the way out. He liked the Gallery Suite, mentioned the view. It was a short entry for such a long talker.