200 Years. 200 Stories. Story 55: “Guarding our Treasures ”

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photo of a Detex Guardsman
Vintage 1916–1920 Detex Guardsman

Guarding our Treasures

This beautiful, clock-like item was recently discovered in the depths of the Academy storerooms. Thanks to several quick-thinking employees, it made its way to the Archives. A little research shows that this fascinating object is a vintage 1916–1920 Detex Guardsman, a device that Academy security guards used as recently as the 1980s. Detex keys were located strategically throughout the museum. These keys were inserted into the clock, imprinting a corresponding number on a paper tape located inside the clock. The next morning the tapes could be read to determine if the guard had checked the various areas of the building.

The weight of the eight-pound clock may have motivated one crafty guard to move the Detex keys to his comfortable desk where he sat to perform his museum security “tour” and where his supervisor discovered the keys the next morning! Today guards at the Academy conduct tours with an electronic touch probe that collects data from titanium chips located throughout the building. The touch probe data is downloaded into a computer as needed. Electronic touch probes have proven to be effective at thwarting security shortcuts, but they are not nearly as sturdy as the old Detex clocks.

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