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First exhibition at the Buckingham Palace Picture Gallery

“Don’t touch the art” is a simple rule adopted by almost every gallery and museum in the world. However, for some reason, there are a few who choose to ignore it, either because their curiosity gets the most out of them or, in a surprising number of cases, because they are in search of the perfect selfie. Whatever their motives, the museum goers below left a trail of mutilated artwork.

1. Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix

If a lesson is to be drawn from glitches in the art gallery, never use a valuable work of art as a piece of furniture. In July 2020, a nameless tourist from Austria decided to enjoy Antonio Canova̵

7;s plaster cast Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix (1804) in the Antonio Canova Museum in Italy to make his selfie as casual as possible. (Bonaparte was Napoleon’s sister.) In the process he crumbled the toes of poor Pauline, who is shown in the sculpture as lying on a pillow. Surveillance footage shows the man acknowledging the loss of limb before leaving. The police later identified him from a museum reservation. He apologized for the accident and offered to pay for the restoration work.

2. Dom Sebastiao statue

A 24-year-old visitor from Lisbon, Portugal made a very bad call in 2016 when he climbed a 126 year old statue on the facade of Lisbon, Portugal’s Rossio train station, to take a selfie. The 16th-century free-standing statue depicting King Dom Sebastiao fell over and broke on the floor. The tourist who tried to escape was caught by the authorities and eventually forced to appear before a judge. The Portuguese Infrastructure Department has no information on when the statue will be repaired.

3. Statue of the two Hercules

Hercules may have had the strength of the gods, but unfortunately that tenacity didn’t result in sculptures of him. In 2016, two tourists visiting the Loggia dei Militi Palace in Cremona, Italy damaged the 300-year-old Statue of the two Hercules (Statue of two Hercules) when they climbed on it to take a selfie. According to reports, tourists were hanging from the crown of one of the marble figures that held the city’s landmark between when it gave way and fell to the ground. The tourists were charged with vandalism and the government called in experts to assess the damage.

4th See the man

The most famous (read: hilarious) art of “restoration” in history could be when 80 year old Cecilia Gimenez tried to repair a deteriorating fresco in a church in Borja, Spain. Her new and improved art made international headlines in 2012 and inspired endless internet memes. Saturday night live Kate McKinnon even starred a couple of times in her Weekend Update segment, with Kate McKinnon playing Gimenez.

The painting, a representation of Jesus Christ by artist Elías García Martínez in the 1930s, was peeling from moisture. Gimenez, a parishioner of the church, was working off a 10-year-old photo of the fresco during its restoration. When their work was revealed See the man was called “Potato Jesus”. Gimenez told a Spanish television station that she had permission to work on the fresco (which authorities deny) and had done so during the day. “The priest knew,” she said. “I’ve never tried to do anything hidden.”

Although the church had originally planned to work with art restorers to repair the fresco, by 2014 they had changed their tune. Gimenez ‘artwork became a major tourist attraction, drawing 150,000 visitors from around the world and revitalizing Borja. The church charged $ 1.25 per head to see the artwork that was kept behind plexiglass, as well as another very famous, memorable piece of art: the Mona Lisa. A center dedicated to the interpretation of the new See the man opened in 2016.

5. Vases from the Qing Dynasty

Number one rule for entering a room with priceless art: tie your shoelaces. In February 2006, a man named Nick Flynn took the wrong stairs at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England – and when he tried to change course, he accidentally stepped on his own untied shoelace and fell. The only thing that broke his fall was three Qing Dynasty vases from the 1600s and 1700s that stood on a windowsill. Flynn was unharmed, but the vases, valued at more than $ 100,000, weren’t so lucky: they broke into 400 pieces.

“Although [I knew] The vase would break. I didn’t think she’d be loose and bump into the other two, “he said.” I’m sure I only hit the first one, and that must have flown over the windowsill and hit the next one, which then hit the other like a row of dominoes. “Flynn, who was reportedly banned from the museum, called the incident” just one of those incredibly unfortunate things that can sometimes happen. “

This story has a happy ending, however: by August 2006, Penny Bendall, a ceramic restorer, had glued one of the 113-piece broken vases back together for an exhibition on art restoration. “Assembling the vase may have looked impossible to most people, but actually it wasn’t a difficult task – pretty easy,” she said Daily mail.

6th Annunciation

Should you get a pass for breaking something if it was already technically broken? In 2013, a Missouri man visiting the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence, Italy wanted to see the little finger of a 600-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary by Giovanni d’Ambrogio measure itself next to his own. You know what happened next: the man got a little too close and damaged the figure on the statue. Fortunately, the finger he broke was made of plaster of paris and not original for the sculpture, and art restorers quickly reached for it before it could fall and be further damaged. The man apologized, and restorers at the museum planned to fix the finger again. Hopefully the second fix was more permanent.

7th The drunk satyr

The good news is that this Milanese statue, which lost its left leg to an unknown selfie enthusiast in 2014, is a replica of another statue dating back to 220 BC. Chr. Was. The bad news is that the replica was still very valuable and quite old and dates from the 19th century. Surveillance cameras in this area of ​​the Brera Academy of Fine Arts were not working when the incident occurred, but according to the Daily mailWitnesses saw a student tourist climb onto the statue and get on his knee to take a picture. What the student did not notice was that the statue was pieced together from terracotta and plaster of paris and the leg was already partially removed; Museum director Franco Marrocco said the Corriere della Sera that the museum was planning to restore the statue before the accident.

8th. The actor

A 6 foot tall Picasso painting is hard to miss when hanging on a museum wall, just as the visitor who fell into one in January 2010 discovered. A woman was attending a class at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art when she lost her footing and fell into it The actorand left a 6-inch crack and dent in the lower right corner of the 1904 artwork. “We saw the big, chunky threads that looked like a wicked jute rug,” said Gary Tinterow, chairman of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art of the Museum of the 19th Century, in an interview. “The question was how do you bring Humpty Dumpty back together.”

This process took three months. Lucy Belloli, a restorer at the Met, told the story The New York Times The process involved photographing the canvas, securing flakes of paint with glue, and using strips of paper with rabbit skin glue as bandages, as well as realigning the painting with small sandbags for six weeks. (“[T]The torn part of the canvas had to be gently returned to its flat state, otherwise it would tend to revert to the distortion caused by the accident Times explains.) Some retouching was necessary. The painting was returned to the wall in April 2010 with a layer of plexiglass to protect it. Most visitors couldn’t have said the painting was ever damaged.

This story has been updated for 2020.

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