Wander into the Atrium on any museum morning and you will see a small army of staff members gathered around a cluster of café tables. This collection of people is the Guest Services Department, preparing for a day of greeting, meeting, assisting and nurturing our guests. It’s supposed to be a quick informational meeting on what to expect for the day, but it usually ends up being twenty minutes of storytelling.
This summer many of the stories have been focused on our guests in Fabergé Revealed. There is such a passion for the imperial eggs, and those who are passionate about them, know everything about their history and destiny. These guests love to share their knowledge with the staff working the Fabergé podium. We hear a lot of, “Did you know…” There may be a line beyond the stairs, but the Guest Services Representatives patiently listen to the fate of the other eggs not on display. One guest wanted to know where Lillian Pratt’s fifth imperial egg was and why we didn’t have it here. She was going to go home and call the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to confirm that they still had it in their possession.
A couple of weeks ago as I was approaching the Fabergé podium, expecting to see two staff members hard at work, I was instead greeted by two young girls cleaning and arranging the audio players. They had just finished visiting the galleries and decided that they wanted to help our staff. Their dad had to pull them away from the fun!
There are so many times when the Guest Services staff members go above and beyond their normal responsibilities. Last month two of our staff almost went into the barber business. It seems as though a young guest got the Fabergé audio strap tangled in her hair. The only way to extract it was to cut her hair or cut the audio strap. The staff opted for cutting the audio strap, and so with scissors in hand, and a very calm dad, the cord was cut, and the little girl was freed from the clutches of the audio strap.
One of our favorite tales just happened this past week. Our Education Department has placed art caddies filled with paper, crayons, and pencils on our café tables so that our guests, both young and old can embrace their creative side and draw a picture while relaxing in the Atrium. Savannah, age four took advantage of this PEM perk and spent some time drawing a couple of pictures. She eagerly presented them to Russell and Rich, two of our Guest Services staff, who were working at the Info Desk. She had drawn the two of them! It was clear who was who in the picture, Russell was wearing a checked shirt and Rich was in orange. Savannah had captured them in crayon. We thought about sneaking the pictures into one of the galleries and placing them next to a Sargent painting, but instead opted to enjoy them on the wall in our break room.
As we bid farewell to Fabergé and eagerly await the opening of our next special exhibitions, new experiences will take place, and the Guest Services staff will continue to gather in the Atrium each morning to share their tales from the floor.