Beloved Met Security Guard David Barney Has Died

Universally admired fellow starred in ‘Who Protects the Art’ video

The author with David Barney, longtime security guard at The Met.

I stand heartbroken.

David Barney, longtime Security Officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a treasure.

Every conversation with Dave made my day at the Met a bit brighter and I am sure that is true for so many of us. He brought such pride and kindness to his role at the Museum; I was privileged to call him my friend and colleague.

I met Dave on my first day at the Metropolitan. On my last day nearly 20 years later—a drop in the bucket compared to his seasoned 35— I made a point to walk into the Greek and Roman galleries to get a photo with him to mark the occasion. Really, how could one not? Dave was an institution within the institution. If you got to work early enough, you might catch him in his favorite galleries, those that feature the arts of Japan. An early bird, Dave could often be found there before the official work day began, and his interest led him on several trips to Asia to learn more about the history, people and culture.

But if you needed to find Dave during regular work hours, your best bet was to head over to his turf in the Greek and Roman galleries, where he presided over classical antiquity and Fifth Avenue with a cool balance of warmth and authority. Seven million visitors a year did not phase him. So there I went, and there he was, much like the guardian marble lion he was standing near—attentive, alert, and perfectly ready to greet or protect as the situation warranted. I often saw him after that on subsequent visits, but will always remember that day, with the light streaming.

My thoughts are with his family, especially his wife Yuki, at this time. Words are inadequate to describe the injustice that Dave will not get to meet his new baby personally. But if there is anything right in this world, that child will come to know that their father left a mark on so many people. That there is great strength in a warm welcome and an interest in others. Rest in power, David, and thank you.

 

 

Masha Turchinsky

Masha Turchinsky is the director of Hudson River Museum - @HudsonRivMuseum.

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