by Aminath Ifasa
  • 1 minute read
  • August 07, 2020
Tourist In Italy Breaks The Toe Of An 1800s Sculpture When Taking A Selfie

Yes, that’s right. A tourist at Possagno, Italy’s Museo Antonio Canova has damaged the plaster version of Italian neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova’s 19th century sculpture, while trying to take a selfie with the artwork. According to the museum, the Austrian visitor sat on the edge of the sculpture, called Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix, breaking two toes.

Plaster model of Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix in Museo Antonio Canova

Following the incident, the visitor left the venue without notifying staff members. The damage was noticed by a guard at the museum, and authorities reviewed the surveillance footage to confirm the incident. The tourist later came forward and identified himself.

“During the visit, I sat on the statue, without realizing the damage that I obviously caused,” he wrote in a letter shared on the museum’s Facebook page, addressed to Antonio Canova Foundation’s president Vittorio Sgarbi. “It was irresponsible behavior on my part. I didn’t flee, I apologize in every way possible,” he wrote.

“We reiterate that our heritage must be protected: adopting 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,” Museo Antonio Canova wrote on Facebook. The museum is working to have the sculpture restored.

The 1804 sculpture is a depiction of Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister, Paolina Bonaparte Borghese, and was a plaster model for the final marble version of the work, which is now housed in Rome’s Galleria Borghese. The Canova museum is home to a gypsotheca, or “collection of plasters,” featuring the artist’s work.

This isn’t the first time that a selfie taker has damaged a museum artifact. A visitor at the 14th Factory gallery in Los Angeles knocked down almost an entire installation in 2018. The incident is recorded in a YouTube video, which shows the crown-formed structure tumbling down like dominoes.

Images credit: @annamarion_ and Museo Antonio Canova

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