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Gallery’s record on art damage is poor

awA new set of documents shockingly proved that hundreds of sculptures, paintings, and other pieces of artwork have been damaged while under the supervision of the leading galleries and museums in the UK.

Among the works damaged are pieces by Tracey Emin and Andy Warhol and include dinosaur bones and a doll house.  In one specific case a complete steam engine was destroyed by accident.  A few items were damaged to the point where they had to be scrapped, while others required thousands of pounds worth of renovations.

The National Galleries of Scotland were responsible for eight damaged pieces of art, including the Andy Warhol painting Mark of the Beast and the Tracey Emin piece My Uncle Colin. The Tate Modern damaged Ishi’s Light, 2003 by Anish Kapoor when a film cameraman hit it.

Paintings were also damaged by poor supervision at the Tate, which saw damage twice in one year to Mark Rothko’s Black on Maroon: once when a child left fingerprints on it and another incident in which it was dented by a child.

For the most part, the documents found that incidents were most likely to occur while a painting or work was being taken down or installed by staff.  For instance, at the London National Gallery Domenico Beccafumi’s painting Marcia was broken in two when being removed from the wall.  An adhesive failure was blamed for the incident which led to repair costs.

The Victoria and Albert Museum also damaged a 15th century Christ figure while removing it at the cost of £1,600 in repairs.


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