25 Agosto 2017 07:41
Fortunately, it will only cost around £100 to repair
Last month, after a girl destroyed $200,000 worth of art while taking a selfie, I suggested that maybe it was time to establish an exclusive club: the Selfie Museum Destroyer Fail Club. Clumsy selfie-takers laying waste to artworks and museum pieces seems to be a growing phenomenon. It's only fair that these much-mocked individuals should have a support group to share their experiences with.
Until now, most of the people responsible for all this destruction have been adults acting alone. But this time, a whole family was involved in the disaster. You know those parents who send their kid running on ahead to nab the only free table on the café terrace? The types who have no qualms about taking advantage of their child's sweet innocence/stupidity? Well, I get the feeling that those are the sort of people we're dealing with here.
The incident occurred on 4 August at Prittlewell Priory Museum in Southend, Essex. The progenitors of this little tyke thought it would be a fun idea for the kid to get inside a 800-year-old coffin to pose for a photo. 'Look, sweetie, isn't that cute? He looks like he's dead!'
When the fruit of their loins was lifted over the protective barrier, the coffin got knocked off its stand and broke apart. The family used the classic tactic of 'let's get out of here before anyone notices' and left the busy museum without saying a word to staff. What they hadn't contemplated was the fact that the museum was fitted with CCTV which recorded the whole incident.
'The care of our collections is of paramount importance to us and this isolated incident has been upsetting for the museums service, whose staff strive to protect Southend’s heritage within our historic sites,' said Claire Reed, the conservator responsible for repairing the sarcophagus. 'My priority is to carefully carry out the treatment needed to restore this significant artefact so it can continue to be part of the fascinating story of Prittlewell Priory.'
The sandstone coffin was found in 1921 in the grounds of the priory founded by Cluniac monks in the 13th century. The damaged casket is the last of its kind. 'It’s a very important artefact and historically unique to us as we don’t have much archaeology from the priory,' added Reed.
Luckily for the council (and the fugitive family), the repairs will only cost around £100. The council has reminded visitors to observe and respect all signs and barriers that are there to protect the local heritage.
And – just to be on the safe side – the coffin will now be completely enclosed to prevent any future damage from occurring.