The answer is a resounding yes, but despite the looming flagship Leonardo exhibition, as this Guardian article reports, the National Gallery is pressing ahead with its plans to have warders guard two rooms instead of one. This comes a few weeks after the attack on Poussin’s art, and amid claims that the gallery’s security is on a par with other leading museums. Really? Surely Artwatch UK’s Michael Daley is right to express concern at this policy. As he’s quoted in the Guardian:
"The most alert and attentive person cannot be in two places at once … and cannot see through walls." He acknowledged the gallery's claim that perambulatory staff were more effective, but said: "The quantity of surveillance is halved whether or not its quality improves."
Meanwhile, taking a break from his coverage of the London riots, Jonathan Jones of the same newspaper lashes out at Artwatch for even broaching the subject? In the comments section he splutters:
“This "story" is sensationalist hysteria that relies heavily on a very dubious source, ie, Artwatch UK.
Artwatch is quoted here as a neutral voice of authority on such matters. It is nothing of the sort: it is a dogmatic pressure group with a long history of picking on the National Gallery in particular.
The reporter says "such is the concern that Artwatck UK has been contacted". That makes it sound like Artwatch is a bit like the Hague court or Ofart, a cool and responsible public body.
This is a bit like a political story that said, "such is the concern that the English Defence League has been contacted."
Artwatch is not neutral, and should never be allowed to speak with unquestioned authority in any news story.”
Why? Artwatch UK is expressing the view of many people, curators, security experts, art historians, employees of the N.G., anybody interested in protecting its art, especially after the dreadful attack on the Poussin paintings. It’s a legitimate concern, and Artwatch only have the welfare of the art in mind. And do you really, Mr Jones, need to bring the English Defence League into this?