Selfie era vandalism

Drunken Satyr statue after a failed selfie

The ban on photography in museums has been shown to have a good reason. In an effort to capture meetings with masterpieces for social networks, some tourists really cross the line. Here are the most egregious cases of self-damage to exhibits.

According to a 2017 study published in the American professional magazine Insurance Journal, damage from visitors taking selfies is now among the most common insurance claims against insurers by museums – along with fires, flooding, theft, and deliberate vandalism.

Visitors have stumbled and fell on exhibits before, but now they do so much more often because they are trying to take pictures. And some just do not take their eyes off the phone and do not look around.

Let’s remember the most notorious cases – and find out what consequences they led to.

Venus the Winner by Antonio Canova

Selfie era vandalism

Plaster model of the sculpture of Pauline Bonaparte after damage

This 1804 statue, for which Napoleon’s sister Pauline posed, is one of the main nude sculptures of the Classicist era. Its famous marble version is in the Galleria Borghese in Rome, and the author’s plaster model is in the Canova Gypsum Museum in Possagno in northern Italy. In August of this year, a gypsum visitor broke off two of the model’s toes, squatting on the edge of her bed to take a selfie. The vandal escaped, but he was identified by cameras and electronic tickets – however, he himself gave up when he heard about his atrocity on the news. The Treviso provincial court is currently deciding whether to bring charges against the Austrian tourist.

Simon Birch Exhibition

Selfie era vandalism

Hypercaine installation by Simon Birch at 14th Factory

In 2017, contemporary artist Simon Birch exhibited a new immersive exhibition at the 14th Factory in Los Angeles. One of the halls was a Hypercaine installation made up of many plinths of different heights on which crowns stood. The video shows a woman sitting down at the extreme pedestal to take a photo. However, she pushes the pedestal with her back, it falls, and drags the entire row with it, like dominoes. The artist himself later estimated the damage caused at $ 200,000, since some of the crowns were made of granite and marble, gilded wire of intricate weaving, or printed on a 3D printer. However, the New York Times journalist suspected that this was a staging to upload a viral video to YouTube and attract more viewers to the gallery.


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