You may recall the global disgust over a Chinese tourist who wrote on an ancient Egyptian temple, now it will be Americans who hang their heads in shame. An unidentified 55-year-old man from Missouri snapped the finger off a 14th or 15th century marble masterpiece when he decided to measure it by grabbing the hand. It is something out of a Seinfeld episode but this represents a serious act of destruction of an ancient piece. Fortunately, it can be repaired.
The piece is called the Annunciazione by medieval sculptor Giovanni D’Ambrogio. The Annunciation refers to the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus. The hand on this work at Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is not part of the original and is made of plaster. A security guard was rushing to tell this dysfunctional moron not to touch the art when the finger snapped off. He was at the museum with three other people.
I have been to this museum in Florence, as have many other Americans, and marveled at its collection. What this man did is a national disgrace and embarrassment. How old do you have to be to know not to touch art works? I can understand kids forgetting the rule (which is why we hover close to them at museums). This was a grown man.
The tourist was reported to police. Do you believe that this should be a criminal matter? As angry and disgusted as I am, this is clearly not an intentional act. It is an act of unspeakable stupidity to be sure but should it be charged as a type of criminal negligence? In the very least, the museum should charge this man for the restoration of the hand . . . and hopefully ban him from ever returning to the museum.