The Guggenheim Museum, anticipating potentially unruly visitors to the “Art of the Motorcycle” exhibit, which opened last month, hired extra guards for the show. But though the opening weekend broke previous attendance records, the crowds proved unnervingly well behaved. “We do a walk-through every morning and look for fingerprints,” says Sarah Botts, the exhibition’s coordinator. “People have not been touching the bikes, which is extraordinary, because in the ‘China: 5,000 Years’ exhibit, which probably drew more of an art audience, everything was trashed. There’s been a tremendous respect here.”
Frank Balsamo, a museum guard, says it’s just biker etiquette at work. “You look at a guy’s bike, you inspect it closely,” he explains. “But you never touch it.” Some Harley types were even inspired by the mechanical beauty to check out the museum’s Picassos and Kandinskys, too.
“I wanted to ride my bike up the ramp,” admits one visitor waiting to retrieve his leather jacket and helmet from the coat check. “I could have done it, but I probably would have been arrested.”