Here’s What Would Happen If You Accidentally Damaged Artwork In A Museum

Oh, you’re responsible for your kids, too

When you walk into the cavernous, hushed halls of a museum, two thoughts likely pass through your head. The first is, How would I go about stealing something off the walls here, Thomas Crown-style? The second less sinister, but more probable, concern is, What would happen if I accidentally knocked over this statue?

Just the thought of such a blunder is enough to give you anxiety, but you adjust to your surroundings and carry on. If you have kids in tow, it’s likely that the fear won’t be so quick to dissipate, but that’s just one of the joys of parenthood, isn’t it?

Just be glad this wasn’t your kid:

It’s only natural to have your imagination run wild when you and yours are given relatively unfettered access to so many significant, historic, and expensive treasures. But sometimes things go wrong, and the idle rumination becomes a very real problem for the visitor and museum alike.

In a recent Artsy piece by Isaac Kaplan, the writer examines a few instances where—oops—a museum visitor accidentally trashed a piece on display and faced the fallout from their clumsiness and/or inattentiveness.

So what DOES happen if you are responsible for accidentally damaging a work of art on public display? Well, the usual caveat applies—every situation is different—but for the most part, you’re going to be ok.

I mean, you’ll be too ashamed to visit that museum (or possibly any other one, again), but if it’s an accident, you probably will have to face the music, disclose the damage and your clumsiness, but that’s about it. You won’t spend the rest of your days working in the gift shop to pay down that Ming vase you knocked over.

That’s because museums are insured out the wazoo for instances just like this. They’re almost exclusively nonprofit, and many of the pieces they contain are actually on loan or are gifts from other collections or museums. According to Artsy’s interview with Colin Quinn, the director of claims at AXA Art Americas Corporation, less than 10 percent of claims paid out are due to damage by visitors. (Damage during transit, in storage, and by staff, however, is much more common.)

At the risk of oversimplifying, damaged art is the cost of doing business and, at some point, the visitor experience has to be weighed against the measures taken to protect art. Putting everything behind plexiglass might keep everything safe, but a trip to the museum would lose a lot of its luster if everything was viewed behind glass.

So if you break something, you don’t need to be scared. You’ll be terrified nonetheless, but you don’t need to be. Tell someone in charge what happened, the sooner the better. Historically, the museum will take your information—not to collect on the damage, but to issue a full report to the insurance company so that they can get a check for their imminent claim.

Were you to handle the situation differently and take off running, well, you wouldn’t be any more or less culpable, but were the museum to find you, which they almost certainly would via their limitless surveillance, the tone of your inevitable meeting would likely be less cordial. And far more awkward.

Museums are happy to have you. Ultimately, they’re in the business of sharing art with the world, so dishing out draconian punishments for accidents by people just trying to get a little culture in their lives doesn’t help them achieve their goal. They also know that damn near every piece on display exceeds your net worth, so the likelihood of reimbursement by the offending party is virtually nil.

In the end, the shame of getting caught on a security camera backing into an Etruscan sculpture while trying to snap a selfie should be reason enough to stay focused and aware. So let’s post one more shameful video as a deterrent.

Ok. That parent should probably be billed.

via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

Keep Reading Show less
via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

Keep Reading Show less
via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet