In 2006, a lovely day at the museum turned tragic when Nick Flynn, a 42-year old man tripped over his shoelace at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and broke three 17th century vases worth $225,000. But even though this kind of accidents don’t happen everyday, when you hear a story like that, you can’t help yourself but wonder what are the implications.
So, what will happen if you accidentally damage a priceless work of art?
Let’s find out. (the article continues after the ad)
The truth is, not that much. This is because every single piece of artwork you see in a museum has insurance that covers such instances. And just because you don’t hear about accidents like that on the news everyday, it doesn’t mean that exhibits are not damaged on a daily basis. According to Colin Quinn, the director of claims at AXA Art Americas Corporation, pieces are damaged regularly with damages in storage or during transportation being responsible for the vast majority of the claims (only 10% is attributed to damages by visitors).
From all the cases we could find online, only one person was pressed with charges. This happened when a tourist at a Portuguese train station knocked over an 1890 statue of Dom Sebastiao, resulting in its total destruction. The man was charged with destruction of public property. Other than that though, there are no other instances in which a person was charged for accidentally destroying an artwork.
So, what’s the worst thing that could happen to you since being faced with legal charges is off the table?
Well, as it turns out, the worst thing that could happen to you is to get banned from the museum. As Nick Flynn recalls, he got a letter from the museum asking him “not to visit the museum again in the near future.” You know, he was politely asked to not visit for a while.
So there you have it. Be careful when visiting museums but if you ever happen to damage any valuable piece of art, don’t panic. The museum will get its money from the insurance and you will definitely not have to sell souvenirs for 40 years in the museum’s shop in order to pay for the damage.
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: Here’s What Happens When You Put The Wrong Fuel To Your Car (And What You Should Do)
Photo: Screenshot via YouTube, Steve Baxter
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: Here’s What Would Happen If You Accidentally Damaged Artwork In A Museum | What Happens If You Break an Artwork? | Portugal’s Dom Sebastiao Statue Destroyed by a Selfie