Behind the Scenes, J. Paul Getty Museum

Volunteer Chuck Panama: Pinned and Proud

Chuck Panama wants you to know that the whole thing is an accident.

“I’m not a pin collector,” Chuck, a seven-year volunteer at the Getty Center, told me. “I’m not one of these people who studies it. I’m sure there’s a pin magazine for collectors. I’m not one of those.”

It’s hard to miss him. The pins that weigh down his vest of bright green, the color worn by all volunteers who work with school groups, make him the most decorated of all his peers. Nobody is as pinned or as proud as Chuck.



He amassed the collection from sporting events and gifts from other volunteers who come back from travel, pins in hand. Chuck can’t say exactly how many he owns, though about 58 of them were hanging from his vest last Tuesday morning as he greeted schoolchildren for their visit to the Getty Center.

Chuck showed me just a few of his constellation of pins: One is from China, another from Japan. There are a few Dodgers and Lakers pins, ones from the Olympics, UCLA (his alma mater), Culver City, even one celebrating Vin Scully (a good friend). They create a cosmic order of flair.

What’s his favorite pin? Besides the one celebrating his five years of service here, it’s a small one that reads “Steamboat” given to him as a gift by his daughter, who now lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It lives on his right side, just above his heart.

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4 Comments

  1. Amra
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    wonderful story!

  2. Susan Cornner
    Posted August 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    You are such a sweetie! I am proud to be on the Tuesday shift with you and proud to see my China trip pin among your collection.

  3. JUNE BURAKOFF-SMITH
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Chuck, I think of you almost every day when I look at the adorable piece of pottery your daughter made for me way back in the 20th Fox day. It has been on my dressing table all these years. Hope you and Gerry are well

    • Posted November 24, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your comment June! I see Chuck from time to time around the Center, and I’ll make sure he receives your lovely comment.

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      September, the month to harvest grapes, isn’t just for the modern Virgo.

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