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A trip to an art exhibition in Taipei ended in a less-than-ideal manner for a 12-year-old boy, who tripped and broke his fall by sticking his fist through a painting — thereby realizing everyone’s worst museum-related nightmare. On Sunday, while touring a show titled The Face of Leonardo, Images of Genius at Huashan 1914 Creative Park, the young visitor tripped over a rope barrier and toppled, hands first, into a Paolo Porpora painting titled “Flowers,” as Focus Taiwan reported.
Surveillance video footage captured the cringe-worthy incident, which occurred on Sunday, in its entirety: witness the boy enjoying a beverage as he roams the gallery and sidles along to the Porpora, gazing in the opposite direction, completely unaware of the presence of the barrier guarding the 350-year-old oil painting. He makes contact, stumbles, and — honestly, does what anyone would do out of instinct — extends his arms to break his fall. Our tragic protagonist then steadies himself (drink still in hand, with not a drop spilled!) and looks around in a daze before a docent guides him away, leaving behind a group of astonished visitors and a teen-fist-sized hole in the canvas.
According to the exhibition’s organizers, the painting is valued at over $1.5m, but his family will not have to cover the cost of restoration. The work, however, may be permanently damaged, according to a post on the exhibition’s Facebook page.
“All 55 paintings in the venue are authentic pieces and they are very rare and precious,” the post read, as reported by the Telegraph. “Once these works are damaged, they are permanently damaged.”
As a pretty cruel form of punishment, the boy was also banned from all the center’s galleries. According to the Telegraph, he is claiming that he collapsed from a heart condition. It’s uncertain whether the damage does stem from unstable internal organs or actually just unsteady footing, but at least the youth refrained from urinating on the work.
This week is shaping up to be a tough one for art: the Israel Museum noted, also on Sunday, that a young girl broke an ancient vessel dating to the Roman period. According to a museum employee, she had clung to its display case, causing it to topple and break along an existing crack. Rather than admonishing her, however, museum officials instead expressed their gratitude, stating that after its repair it is now in a better shape since it gave them the opportunity to fix the crack that was there before the accident.