Sunday, March 12, 2006

Breakages at the Fitzwilliam (The Telegraph)
An article highlighting the dangers of accidental damage to items held in the care of museums, and the costs involved in cases where insurance is not taken out against individual items: "Things seemed bad enough when a loose shoelace sent Nick Flynn tumbling down a staircase at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The ensuing crashlanding smashed three 300-year-old Qing Dynasty Chinese vases, (estimated value, when not in smithereens, £100,000). Now documents obtained by this newspaper reveal that the museum will receive nothing in compensation for the smashed vases because it failed to get them insured . . . . In 1999 an Egyptian sarcophagus lid which had survived more than two millennia met its match in the form of a French teenager on a school exchange trip. Attendants caught the 15-year-old trying to hide the three fragments detached by his attempt to lift it. The limestone lid, also uninsured and estimated to be worth tens of thousands of pounds, needed extensive repair and was removed from the premises for three years." Wolfram Grajetzki is quoted as saying that these damages occur far more often than might be believed, and Robert Read, fine arts underwriter for Hiscox plc, an insurer of international art collections is quoted saying that most British museums do not insure their collections.

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