Still Life the Ludwig Museum’s lesser-known staff

Museum staff, including gallery attendants, ticket sellers, cloakroom attendants, and technical staff, exhibit different characteristics depending on the era, country, or culture. It is important to note that these characteristics may vary widely. There was a time when refined, sophisticated women knitted next to the artworks. Nowadays, young immigrants are often responsible for the works created by the artistic elite in some countries, while still-active retirees choose this relatively calm, predictable, and quiet job to supplement their income in others. 

As part of the project, Viktória Popovics and József Készman asked me to work with lesser-known staff at the Ludwig Museum in Budapest. As a first step, I conducted interviews. The interviews were about previous experiences, museum work, visitor habits and interpretation of contemporary art. Using individual examples that summarised the life experiences of the contemplative workers, I later created still lifes of these quiet lives. I presented them to the participants on 19 December 2023.

Ujlaky Aurél csendélete, 2023

To share the many experiences of Ludwig’s lesser-known staff with other staff and managers of the institution, I have created a publication. In addition to portraits and still lifes, the publication contains extracts from interviews. The experiences of the non-curatorial staff provide a perspective close to that of the visitors in understanding and nuancing the discourse on culture. The diverse opinions and life experiences of individuals from a variety of backgrounds provide insights into the Ludwig Museum and the wider art establishment. This contributes to a better understanding of contemporary art and its place in the hierarchy of the art world.

I would also like to thank the staff of the Ludwig Museum for their openness and trust!

Browse the publication here