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The Boston Globe

Arts

special section: the gardner grows

Confessions of a former Gardner Museum night guard

Alone with masterpieces, and nothing but a flashlight as a source of illumination.

IN 1986 AND ’87 I worked as a security guard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. For most of that time I was a night guard. The pay was low and the hours were difficult, but it was a job I truly enjoyed.

I had moved to Boston after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, and at first I worked as a gallery attendant. We weren’t allowed to draw while on duty, but I always carried a small sketchbook, and when I was alone I’d draw studies of the artworks that impressed me. Among those were Vermeer’s “The Concert’’ and Rembrandt’s “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee’’ - two of the masterpieces stolen in 1990, in what remains the biggest unsolved art heist in history, with a total value estimated at up to $500 million.

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