Exploring the front-of-house experience
The story behind the Attendant’s View blog
Attendant’s View is a blog primarily from the viewpoint of gallery attendants and front-of-house (FoH) staff, told mainly through cartoons of real-life experiences. It started with cartoons creating to liven up a museum staff room but grew into a website of stories submitted by peers and other sources.
Cartoons might seem like an unusual way to explore what FoH staff experience, but they are relatively quick to produce and for people to digest, so they are a logical way for staff pressed for time to express themselves.
The goals of Attendant’s View are to present some of the things that aren’t taught in museum studies courses; to let staff share their amusing, endearing or outright shocking stories; and to show people that they are not alone in their experiences.
Anonymity is important for Attendant’s View, as many people in this area of the workforce worry that revealing issues will result in them facing disciplinary actions or even losing their jobs.
Some posts could be perceived as negative or “snarky”, such as sharing comments from visitors or revelling in management failure, but unpleasant humour isn’t the intention. Finding the light side is essential in some situations – or “laughing to keep from crying” as a former-colleague once phrased it.
There’s also an effort to share the uplifting stories, with heart-warming tales of children inspired by staff interactions, and the small differences that good FoH staff make to positively turn around a visitor’s expectations and experiences. It’s easy to overlook these joyful moments amid the humdrum, so they deserve recording.
Attendant’s View is the cathartic blog equivalent of sharing a story in the staff room or pub. Feeling that connection can make a big difference when you are on a 10-day shift with a bank holiday peak at the end of it. These online forums can be valuable, even if they’re not shaking the establishment.
The author of this case study publishes the blog and social media accounts Attendants View. They have more than 12 years’ experience working in front- and back-of-house for a wide range of museums, galleries and historic houses