Museums are wonderful places full of beauty and history. Even from a young age, many of us are taught to look, but not touch. Some teachers and parents even train their kids to lace their fingers behind their backs to fend off the temptation.
But then there are those who like to get up close and personal. On Friday, one tourist got a little too up close and personal with a statue at the Gipsoteca Museum in Possagno, Italy.
The 200-year-old statue, Antonio Canova’s “Paolina Bonaparte,” is a plaster cast model. The subsequent marble statue is in Rome.
Plaster is not nearly as durable as marble, but that didn’t seem to put off the 50-year-old Austrian tourist who almost certainly knew better than to cozy up with the museum’s inhabitants.
According to what police told CNN, the man sat on the base of the statue and “sprawled over the statue” while a woman with him took his photo.
In the process, however, the tourist accidentally hit the statue’s toes, breaking off three of them.
Without saying a word, the couple left, and the damage only became apparent when a room guard caught on and notified the authorities.
Vittorio Sgarbi, the president of the Antonio Canova Foundation, posted on social media calling for swift action.
“I ask for clarity and penalty to the police and the judiciary,” he wrote in a translated post, “… identifying with security tools the unconscious vandal, and not allowing him to go unpunished and return home. The scar in Canova is unacceptable.”
The security camera caught it all, showing the man lying on the statue, breaking off the toes and then quickly moving off once he realized what had happened.
In an odd turn of events, the man may never have been identified if it hadn’t been for the coronavirus. As a safety measure, the museum had all guests list their names and contact information upon entry in case an outbreak occurred.
The wife had apparently written in her name and her husband’s, and when she was contacted she broke down in tears and confessed that it was her husband who had done the damage.
The man called his faux pas a “stupid move,” and a Treviso court is currently deciding whether to press charges.
“We reiterate that our heritage must be protected,” the museum posted on Facebook. “[A]dopting responsible behavior within the Museum while respecting the works and goods preserved in it is not only a civic duty, but a sign of respect for what our history and culture testifies and that must be proudly handed down to future generations.”
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