In an effort to make amends for what Jewish Contemporary Museum officials are calling an unprecedented and decidedly ironic moment, Sunday has been declared Hand Holding Day at the museum.
The event is in response to a security guard demanding that a lesbian couple stop holding hands while viewing an exhibit highlighting a famous lesbian.
The unnamed couple were at the Gertrude Stein exhibit Sunday when the guard reportedly told them they were acting inappropriately, prompting other museum-goers to argue against the guard’s interpretation of museum policy.
When the head of the contracted security force was called in to mediate, the guard was “relieved of his duty,” according to museum officials.
“We called the security company to make sure he was reprimanded and not allowed to come back,” Director Connie Wolf said, adding that the guard was subbing in for the day and hadn’t previously worked there. “In the future, we need to have sensitivity training for the values of the museum.”
Sunday’s museum attendees are being encouraged to do as much hand-holding as they like during talks and musical performances that were previously scheduled as part of an LGBT event.
“We thought we’d take it as an opportunity to turn the tide and pump something positive into it,” said Daryl Carr, the museum’s marketing director.
Carr said Guardsmark — the museum’s security company — has been otherwise great to work with, and although the museum doesn’t have the power to have the guard terminated, officials have asked the company to consider better stand-ins during the summer vacation months.
Carr said the museum generally does not receive complaints about the guards.
“If anything, it’s that they’re so protective of the art,” Carr said. “But that’s their job.”