A Message from Steve Keller


My Sincerest Thanks!

I want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues and the Centennial Honor Roll committee for including me in the 2006 Centennial Honor Roll. This is a wonderful honor. I’ve told this story many times but it is worth saying again. As a security professional working among an esteemed group a museum professionals, I have always felt like the fifth wheel. When I was at the Art Institute of Chicago during trying times following the Cezanne theft of 1978, I implemented many changes that were not always well received by staff used to total freedom and few security restrictions. During my eight year tenure, while I always felt a part of the institution I also felt like I was simply tolerated. When I announced I was leaving the Art Institute to form Steve Keller & Associates, Inc. an independent museum security consulting firm, I expected cheers of joy from those whom my policies and procedures had inconvenienced. Instead, a long line of my perceived adversaries, mostly curators, came to wish me well and to lament that with me leaving, they would no longer sleep as well. One said that he slept well at night knowing I was worrying about security of his collection.

It was this experience that made me aware that museum professionals really do care about security. A colleague once said, “Listen to your museum staff’s grumbling. It lets you know that your security is working.”  And it’s true.

Once again, the inclusion of a security professional on this list of museum professionals  reminds me how much we all do care about those things we collect and maintain in our institutions and how important security really is to all of us. We really do share the same common mission.

This should be a lesson to my young colleagues who are just beginning their careers in museum security and face that daily grumbling from their co-workers. It is an honor to play such a daily role in the protection of so much of the world’s art and cultural heritage. Don’t expect them to line up at your door to thank you for your service but know that your efforts are appreciated and considered important. You are not there to win a popularity contest. You have more important responsibilities to tend to.

Thank you, Honor Roll Committee, for sending this message to those security people in the trenches that they, too, are a valued part of the museum community.

View Centennial Honor Roll list.                            View the Honor Roll Video

Steve Keller, CPP