Enough is enough — when will museum visitors learn to NOT TOUCH THE ART??! Are notice signs insufficient? Are rope barriers mere suggestions? Do people lack respect for culture, or simply, the common sense to know that objects on display are there for observing and not for climbing, pulling, or posing with to take a selfie?
Evidently good judgement is indeed remiss in some, who somehow have not learned any lessons from countless past incidents. Our latest offender is a man visiting Pennsylvania’s National Watch & Clock Museum — home to North America’s largest horological collection — who was obviously unable to restrain himself from enjoying a tactile experience. So enthralled is our gent with a clock hanging on a wall that snapping a photograph won’t satisfy; instead, as his female companion silently watches, he has to spend nearly a full minute prodding the work and swaying its movable parts until it crashes to the floor and fractures. Sculpted by Iowa-based artist James Borden, the wooden timekeeper is one of many Borden handcrafts for his business Timeshapes, which offers large clocks that integrate complicated wheels, gears, and pulley systems. He had donated it to the museum in 1994, as NBC Philadelphia reported.
Our protagonist had attempted to rehang the clock but failed — also, it’s broken — so he surrendered, leaning it against the wall. The painful and tense footage of this scene arrives from the museum itself, which posted a video to its YouTube channel titled, “Please Don’t Touch!!!”
“This is why we beg and plead with our visitors to please refrain from touching objects in museums,” the museum writes in the video’s description, noting that the couple did notify staff immediately instead of attempting to damage-and-dash.
Museum director Noel Poirier told NBC Philadelphia that the man was likely trying to get the clock to operate, adding that the clock is undergoing in-house repairs and will probably return to its wall in a few months.
“Once he pulled it up a little too high, that weight came off track and the heavy weight came down, hit the clock, knocked the clock off the wall, so then you see the results,” Poirier said. “I think what he was trying to do was raise the weight up because I think he thought that would make the clock run.”
The museum is not pressing charges against the couple, instead taking a rather good-natured stance on the entire matter.
“Apparently this visitor really wanted to see this one run,” Poirier said. “For us, it’s a learning opportunity for folks because there are reasons that museums ask folks not to touch things.”
2016 has already blessed us with an abundance of art mishaps, and we are only inches into June. But please, tell me we have reached some kind of terrible peak of museum destructions, for if I have to write about these incidents again I’ll probably have to go on my own destructive rampage from sheer frustration.