People cope with shameful moments differently—some apologize and have a good laugh, some pretend nothing happened, and others feel terrible for the rest of their lives! This week at the Rubin, we’re embracing the emotion of shame in conjunction with Brainwave 2016: Emotion.
Here are some of the biggest “oops!” moments from headlines in the art world. We hope that none of these will ever happen at the Rubin!
1) Priceless Pinky Snapped
Italy attracts all sorts of visitors in the summer: backpackers, culture enthusiasts, sunbathers, honeymooners”¦ and even a few klutzes.
In the summer of 2013, an American tourist broke the pinky off a marble statue at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence. The man was trying to measure the hand of the 600-year-old piece when the accident happened. As one might expect, the tourist was incredibly embarrassed but ultimately not fined or charged with any criminal offenses. His only punishment is to live with the guilt of damaging a 600-year-old piece of art!
2) $1.5 million Painting Takes a Beating
Last August, at a Leonardo da Vinci show in Taiwan, a video of 12-year-old boy became a worldwide spectacle. While holding a can of soda, the boy lost his balance and tripped into a 17th century Paolo Porpora oil painting called “Flowers.” The $1.5 million painting was left with a hole punched through it.
You can watch the security footage of the accident and learn more below:
3) Act of protest becomes a costly mistake
When it comes to controversial art, Ai WeiWei is no stranger; his works have often been created in the spirit of political protest of the Chinese government. However, in 2014 he found himself on the receiving end of an act of protest at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami.
During a visit to the Museum, Miami-based artist Maximo Caminero purposely smashed a vase from Ai WeiWei’s art installation, explaining that he acted for “all the local artists in Miami that have never been shown in museums here.” Although he acted intentionally, Camerino was surprised to learn that the smashed vase was a painted urn dating back to the Han Dynasty and valued at over 1 million dollars. Camerino later stated that he “thought it was a common clay pot like you would find at Home Depot.”
4) Botched restoration goes viral
When you’re not an expert in a certain field, don’t try too hard to be one. In 2012, a century-old Ecce Homo fresco of in a Roman Catholic church near the city of Zaragoza, Spain was severely disfigured when an elderly woman thought that she could “restore” and fix one hundred years worth of erosion; however, her masterpiece looked nothing like the original. The comical ape-like appearance of her restoration swept the Internet, resulting in jokes and even Halloween costumes.
5) Bull in a China Shop
What happens when a clumsy man meets precious Qing dynasty Chinese vases? Thousands of broken pieces and a damages worth $800,000.
This was exactly what happened in 2006 when a man tripped over his shoelace at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, UK, and stumbled into three 300-year-old Chinese vases. Museum workers sprung right into action to gather and repair the fragments. Ultimately, it took two and a half months for them to glue all the pieces back together. The man was consequently banned from the museum, but he probably would have been too embarrassed to return anyway!
6) Selfie gone wrong
In the era of social media, people of all ages are eager to document and impress others by taking photos wherever they go. For some, museums provide plentiful photo-opps and even props—sometimes to disastrous results.
In 2014, a student decided to take their selfie game up a notch by sitting on the lap of a “Drunken Satyr” statue in a Milan museum. For the student, this may have meant a ton of likes on Instagram but for the statue, it meant destruction; the left leg of the figure was broken into pieces.
Fortunately for the museum, the statue was a recreation of an original, but the visitor’s actions enraged the staff. This is why the Rubin Museum has a strict, “no selfie sticks” policy.
Whether you find yourself ashamed of your bad decisions at a museum or of something much more personal, the bravest thing to do is hold your head high and accept yourself for who you are—even though it isn’t easy.
Explore more of your emotions at our next Brainwave event! Learn more about Brainwave 2016: Emotion.