Museums can be boring, but not when their employees really mess up.
King Tutankhamun’s burial mask is one of the most iconic artifacts in history. Its estimated value? Priceless. Alas, this wasn’t enough to stop five curators at Cairo’s Egyptian Museum from trying to fix it with a tube of cheap epoxy in January 2015. When the mask’s beard was knocked off by two employees replacing a ligh tbulb, their colleagues tried to glue it back on before the museum opened for the day. Worse yet, they later attempted to remove the dried epoxy with a spatula. The damages to 3,300-year-old artifact may be irreversible.
A Fake Tornado Turns Real
Things took a nasty turn during a routine demonstration at Reno’s Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum in September 2014. One of the museum’s presenters was teaching a group of children and their parents about what causes tornadoes. When it came time to use several chemicals to create a miniature whirlwind in a glass jar, the presenter messed up and poured alcohol on a cotton ball dusted with boric acid. Instead of creating a brief, small, and controlled tornado, she wound up five-second explosion that filled a large portion of the room. Thirteen people were injured; the presenter was placed on administrative leave.
The Kunsthal Museum Heist
Management at this art museum in the Netherlands figured they could save a few bucks by firing their after-hours security guard and replacing them with a supposedly foolproof automated system. Unfortunately, the new system wasn’t powerful enough to prevent thieves from breaking into the museum in October 2012. Before the police arrived, the culprits managed to escape with valuable works by Picasso, Monet, Gauguin, Matisse, and Lucian Freud collectively worth more than $100 million. The alleged thieves were tracked to Romania and were arrested, but the artworks have yet to be recovered. Olda Dogaru, the mother of one of the culprits, told authorities that she destroyed each one in her fireplace but she later retracted her statement. They could still be floating around somewhere…