In Russian art museums, women can frequently be found sitting vigil among the sculptures and paintings — but often, they’re not employed by the museum. They just want to be around their favorite works of art, guarding them from any possible harm in the process. As photographer Andy Freeberg writes, “When you look at the paintings and sculptures, the presence of the women becomes an inherent part of viewing the artwork itself. I found the guards as intriguing to observe as the pieces they watch over… A woman in Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery Museum said she often returns there on her day off to sit in front of a painting that reminds her of her childhood home. Another guard travels three hours each day to work, since at home she would just sit on her porch and complain about her illnesses, ‘as old women do.’” Freeberg took it upon himself to photograph these fascinating ladies in a series entitled Guardians, which we recently spotted over at My Modern Met. Click through to see some of our favorites from the series, and then head to Freeberg’s website to check out even more of his work.