29th November 2023
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Museums ‘deeply shaken’ by activists ‘severely underestimating’ fragility of art

Officials at Madrid’s Prado Museum have drawn up a declaration signed by dozens of the world’s top museums which denounces that environmental activists who attack paintings ‘severely underestimate’ the damage that can be caused.

Protesters from various activist groups have attacked numerous masterpieces across Europe in recent weeks to protest the lack of action against climate change, and most recently they have glued themselves to two Francisco Goya paintings at the Prado in Madrid.

Other incidents include a German environmental group throwing mashed potatoes at a Claude Monet painting in a Potsdam museum; activists from Just Stop Oil throwing tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London; a group splashing pea soup on a Vincent van Gogh masterpiece in Rome, Extinction Rebellion campaigners targeting a Picasso painting in Melbourne; and other activists glueing themselves to artworks by Botticelli and Boccioni.

On Wednesday, two protesters from the Stop Fossil Fuel Subsidies group scrawled over Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell’s soup cans at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

‘The activists responsible for [these attacks] severely underestimate the fragility of these irreplaceable objects, which must be preserved as part of our world cultural heritage,’ said the statement.

The statement has been spearheaded by the Prado in Madrid, and signed by the directors of more than 90 world-renowned museums including the Guggenheim in New York, Louvre in Paris and Uffizi in Florence.

Here is the brief, full statement:

‘In recent weeks, there have been several attacks on works of art in international museum collections. The activists responsible for them severely underestimate the fragility of these irreplaceable objects, which must be preserved as part of our world cultural heritage. As museum directors entrusted with the care of these works, we have been deeply shaken by their risky endangerment. 

Museums are places where people from a wide variety of backgrounds can engage in dialogue and which therefore enable social discourse. In this sense, the core tasks of the museum as an institution – collecting, researching, sharing and preserving – are now more relevant than ever. We will continue to advocate for direct access to our cultural heritage. And we will maintain the museum as a free space for social communication.’

ALSO READ: Climate activists glue their hands to the frames of Goya masterpieces at Prado museum.

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