Please, don't touch...

August 8 2016

Video: You Tube

The New York Times looks at recent cases of visitors getting too close to museum exhibits, including the above disaster at the National Watch and Clock Museum in the US. The article cites this view as to why such things happen:

Steve Keller, who has worked in museum security since 1979, said the phenomenon of visitors’ defacing exhibits has been going on for years. He linked their actions to mental instability, a lack of appreciation of art or sheer ignorance.

Which sounds harsh, but is probably true.

The last time I was in the Louvre I saw a visitor vigorously rub the impasto on a painting by John Constable, and then compare it with the surface of a Turner hanging nearby. I gave them what for. 

Personally, I don't mind pictures being glazed, as long as it's done well. I recently visited the Queen's Gallery here in Edinburgh at Holyrood, to see the excellent exhibition Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer,* where every picture was glazed. But it was done so expertly, with perfect lighting, that it was impossible to tell at a normal viewing angle. If this is the price we have to pay to protect our finest pictures from the mad and the ignorant, then so be it. 

*Now at the Mauritshuis in The Hague.

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