The Neue Museum – Wikimedia Commons
Here’s a note to museum-goers across the world: Stop touching stuff. Even if it looks like an ordinary object, just do not touch it.
A 91-year-old woman in Germany got into trouble after she filled out the white spaces in what looked like a crossword game to her with a ball point pen, during her visit to the Nueus Museum in Nuremberg.
But it wasn’t a puzzle.
It was, in fact, a rare piece of 1977 artwork by Arthur Köpcke of the Fluxus movement, valued at €80,000 ($89,000).
The elderly visitor, who has not been named, was later summoned by the police. She later explained she was merely following instructions written next to the work, which read: "Insert words."
“The lady told us she had taken the notes as an invitation to complete the crossword,” a police spokesman said.
Fortunately, the damage wasn’t permanent, according to Eva Kraus, the museum director, and can easily be repaired.
“We do realize that the old lady didn’t mean any harm,” she said. “Nevertheless, as a state museum couldn’t avoid making a criminal complaint. Also for insurance reasons we had to report the incident to the police.”
The episode comes amid a string of incidents over the past couple of months in which museum-goers were found involved in destroying precious works of art and relics. In June, an elderly man destroyed a priceless wall clock at the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania, when he tried to touch the pendulum.
In May, two boys destroyed an invaluable piece of art in a museum as their moms filmed the act of vandalism on their smartphones without intervening at the Shanghai Museum of Glass in East China.