The directors of museums most prestigious in Europe and the United States questioned the current protection measures for works of art after the repeated attacks carried out by several environmental activists grouped in the groups “Just Stop Oil” Y “last generation”. In addition, they classified as “nihilist” the form of expression of the protesters to demonstrate their discontent towards the government authorities for their responsibility in accelerating climate change.
Vandalized works of art: concern in the world’s most famous museums
“Protection measures are no longer enough”, objected the director of the Barberini Museum in Potsdam, Ortrud Westheider, after a group of protesters threw mashed potatoes against the famous painting “Les MeulesClaude Monet’s. The official considered that the act of vandalism showed that “safety standards must be adapted to guarantee the safety of our works of art.” Despite the frame was not seriously damaged because it had a protective glass, it was decided to temporarily close the museum until this Sunday, October 30.
Last Thursday, three activists from the organization “Just Stop Oil” were arrested after one of them hit his head on the glass that protects the painting “The girl of the pearl“, by Johannes Vermeer, in the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, in the Netherlands, to denounce the lack of measures against climate change. Another of the activists stuck his hand to the wall next to the painting. After these acts spread in the news around the world, the museum that exhibited the piece lamented: “art cannot be defended“.
“All museum authorities have been taking precautions against vandalism for a long time. Are more measures needed? Definitely“, the honorary president of the Pompidou Center in Paris, Bernard Blistène, told the AFP news agency.
Just Stop Oil has a long history of acts of vandalism in Europe: it is the same organization that last June acted to the detriment of the Courtlaud Gallery museum in London when two militants “stuck” to the framework of the work “flower fishermen“, by Vincent Van Gogh. And the same one that, weeks before, had thrown tomato soup against the painting”The sunflowers“, of the same author, in the Museum of the National Gallery of London. And the one that, days later, threw smacks against the wax statue of King Carlos IIIat the Madame Tussauds museum in the same city.
The Reina Sofía museum in Madrid indicated that only the “most valuable works are equipped with armored glass”, while, from the Prado Museum, they expressed to the Spanish newspaper 20Minutes that they are “on alert” for possible vandalism situations.
In this context, those responsible for the great French and British museums, including the Louvre, the National Gallery and the Tate in London, maintain discretion regarding this issue and some call for stronger protection measures. Others They insist on “don’t panic”.
Measures to put a stop to vandalism attacks by militants on works of art
For Remigiusz Plath, a security expert from the German Museum Association (DBM) and the Hasso Plattner Foundation, this series of attacks is “clearly a type of escalation”.
“All museums must think about stronger security measures“such as” banning bags, jackets and perhaps also registering visitors, “he said. He also stressed that “of course” he understood the cause of environmental activists, but insisted that “there was” “absolutely no tolerance with vandalism.”
Meanwhile, the expert considered that it was “pure luck” that so far “no painting has suffered serious damage”, but considered that It wouldn’t be long before that “happens sooner or later”.
Experts criticized the vandalism to convey an environmental message
During a press conference in Qatar, the director of the Whitney Museum in the United States, Adam Weinberg, reflected on the intention of the environmental activists who attacked the most famous works of art in the world. “They’re put on a stage to draw attention to something, but you have to ask: does this change anything?”he questioned.
For his part, Tristram Hunt, from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, replied at the same table that in addition to being worried about the situation, he was worried about the “nihilist language” surrounding the protestsand criticized that it leads one to think that “there is no place for art in times of crisis”.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the French newspaper Le Pariesien, the French Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, stated: “It’s terrible!” How does the logic of climate defense lead to wanting to destroy a work of art? It’s absolutely absurd.” She also stressed that France was not “safe from a crazy activist attacking an unprotected painting one day,” and asked “all national museums to redouble their vigilance”.
At the end of May, a man threw a cake into the “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo Da Vinci, protected since 2005 with armored glass, in the Louvre museum. The author of the incident called for “thinking about the Earth”, before being taken to a psychiatric hospital.
For Didier Rykner, director and founder of the online magazine La Tribuna del Arte, those actions are “counterproductive”, and snapped that “the more visibility they are given, the more they will do it again.” “By becoming habitual, acts certainly lose their force,” she said, and pointed out that the message was “quite confusing and perhaps plays in favor of those who point out as their opponents“.
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