August 8, 2016

"Last month, two boys used a sharp object to outline a 5,000-year-old historical carving in Norway thought to be among the earliest depictions of skiing anywhere in the world...."

"They apparently intended to 'fix' it to make it more visible, but permanently defaced the carving, on the island of Tro...."

Just one of the incidents of ordinary people damaging artworks collected in a NYT article (rather sloppily) titled "Whoops! When Museum Visitors Get Touchy-Feely With the Exhibits and Unleash Mayhem." (The headline fits the first-described incident, involving an art-clock displayed uncased and with pull cords that seem to invite experimentation to get the thing moving.)

22 comments:

Balfegor said...

How can they write an article like this and leave out Monkey Jesus??

YoungHegelian said...

@Balfegor,

How can they write an article like this and leave out Monkey Jesus??

That, sir, is more properly referred to as "Our Lord, Savior of the Simians".

Alexander said...

You'll forgive me in this day and age that I don't take a face-value the idea that these were, in fact, "Norwegian Youths" by any common-sense definition of that term.

That the names have not leaked yet is interesting. No leaked security footage, no nothing.

So maybe it really is a case where Sven and Olaf got away from their parents and thought they were doing the museum a favor. Or maybe it was Mehmed the Somali (who is nonetheless just as Norweigan as Sven and Olaf).

But what I do know is if it were the latter, the press and government would move hell and high water to convince us it was the former, while using language that meant they were not, strictly and technically speaking, provably lying.

Quaestor said...

It may or may not be the oldest evidence of skiing, but it's certainly the oldest depiction of Bugs Bunny skiing.

Whether the figure is skiing or skating is a matter of debate. Traditional Lapp skates are made of reindeer ribs and are quite long. The Sami also use a pole to skate.

EDH said...

Last month, two boys used a sharp object to outline a 5,000-year-old historical carving in Norway thought to be among the earliest depictions of skiing anywhere in the world...

The problem to be addressed by legislation, of course, is the "sharp object".

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Speaking of ruining works of art, I'm pretty sure I offended some guy the other day while walking my puppy in the park. He was escorting some autistic guy in his late teens or early twenties and, as they approached on the pathway, I scooped up my dog and carried him past.

He gave me a scowl, which is pretty unusual because pretty much everyone looks only at the puppy. He looked right at me as he passed which simply does not happen when I'm walking the dog.

Anyway, I figured he was pissed because I was implying that his charge was dangerous or that he was incapable of controlling him. And then later it occurred to me that maybe the guy was offended because he was black and he thought I scooped up the puppy because I'm racist.

The punch line is that the autistic guy never once looked up from his smart phone, which he was holding to his chest maybe five inches below his collar bone.

Maybe he was on the internet looking at pictures of puppies.

Freeman Hunt said...

It's important to make it clear to visitors how close they are allowed to get to the exhibits and how they are to interact with them.

I took my oldest son to the Saint Louis Art Museum last Wednesday with two friends and their son. Most of the museum has a line of different colored tile in the floor at the distance that one is not supposed to cross. That was a tasteful, unobtrusive, clear way to do it.

Ann Althouse said...

"How can they write an article like this and leave out Monkey Jesus??"

It is a rather diverse set of things, but I would exclude that because the woman was given permission (I think!) to do the restoration. The church that should have protected its art was in cahoots with her.

In the cases in the article, the institution merely failed to protect the works from people and the people did bad things on their own.

Ann Althouse said...

The skier image was not on display in a museum but scratched into rock 5,000 years ago on rocks that remain in place on the island.

tom swift said...

Being able to get up close to the exhibits is useful ... as long as you're not a jerk. I remember being able to examine the brushwork on some Max Ernst, Salvadore Dali, Maxfield Parish, and Jean-Léon Gérôme originals from about two inches away. (The brushwork doesn't show well in photos.) Back then I could actually see things that close ... and I appreciated the opportunity to do so.

Wilbur said...

This is what happens when Larry talks the Beaver into skipping school.

The Cleaver parents were unavailable for comment. Mrs. Mondello was heard exclaiming "Why do these always happen when your father is out of town?"

Sebastian said...

It's, like, more than 100 years old, like, you know, the Constitution and stuff, so who cares?

EMD said...

"Norwegian officials described the episode as a national tragedy, according to news accounts."

Maybe the Norwegians need a civil war or a mass shooting to get some perspective.

EMD said...

"The Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage to report all violations of the Cultural Heritage Act, and this is a quite serious violation"


Oh, they definitely could use some planes-into-buildings shit going down in Norway.

Balfegor said...

Re: Althouse:

It is a rather diverse set of things, but I would exclude that because the woman was given permission (I think!) to do the restoration. The church that should have protected its art was in cahoots with her.

Yes, that's a good, serious answer. But come on! Monkey Jesus!! I can't think of that one without a smile coming to my face.

mikee said...

There is a larger than life marble statue of Jesus in the original entrance lobby of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The big toe of one foot and the dangling hem of his robe are noticeably worn by the generations of doctors who religiously, or at least superstitiously, touched the statue as a prayer for help with their patients on their way into work.

The statue of first university president Sull Ross on Texas A&M campus, long the only statue on campus, is religiously polished by freshman cadets to maintain a fine bronze sheen instead of a crusty patina. In recent years the polishing has been modified to reduce damage to the statue, but still it shines.

Some vandalization, in my opinion, has as much meaning as the original artwork.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Vandalizing 5,000 year-old scratches on a rock?

Hah!

Wait til the Muzzies get their hands on the Vatican, the Louvre, the Prado, the Glyptotek, The Pergamon, Versailles, Notre Dame, St. Pauls, etc etc etc.

Smilin' Jack said...

The skier image was not on display in a museum but scratched into rock 5,000 years ago on rocks that remain in place on the island.

The original scratchings were no doubt the work of cave-hooligans who got a thorough thrashing when the tribal elders found out they had desecrated the pristine beauty of the primal landscape with their graffiti. This latest event is just a desecration of the desecration.

virgil xenophon said...

tom swift@11:09am/

I know exactly what you mean. They used to allow that at the Nat. Portrait Gallery in London (just overlooking
Trafalgar Square.) But its been since the 70s when I last visited, so don't know if they still have the same policy.

tim maguire said...

An additional cause I would throw out there is the growing use of interactive displays in museums, especially children's museums.

You run enough tourists past an exhibit with moving parts and it's inevitable that at least one will think its ok to move them.

virgil xenophon said...

PS to tom swift/

IIRC the Courtauld Gallery in London had/has? the same policy.

William said...

How do we know that the 5,000 year old scratching wasn't the work of teen agers back then defacing a 6,000 year old inscription?