American Tourist Breaks Off Finger of 600-Year-Old Italian Statue

Wednesday, 07 Aug 2013 01:57 PM

By Ken Mandel

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An American tourist has caused an international outrage after he broke off a finger from a centuries-old statue at an Italian Museum.

Described as an accident, the finger-snapping incident happened Monday at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (Museum of the Works of the Cathedral) in Firenze, Italy, according to The Daily Mail. The 55-year-old tourist was reportedly measuring the right hand of a 600-year-old Virgin Mary statue when he unintentionally snapped off the pinky finger. A security guard at the exhibit tried to intervene, but was too late, reported the Huffington Post.

The statue dates from either the 14th or 15th century, and is part of a work titled "Annunciazione." The broken piece wasn't part of the original work by late 14th-century Florentine sculpture Giovanni d'Ambrogio. Museum director Timothy Verdon told Italian journalists that the plaster finger was one of several restorations made to the statue over the years, and experts are working to determine the extent of the damage, according to Firenze Today.

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The tourist, described as a man from Missouri who was vacationing with his wife and another couple, may be financially liable, according to Italy's The Local. But a spokesman for the museum told MailOnline Tuesday the tourist won't be fined or face criminal action, since the museum has restorers on call, and the statue has already been broken three times.

That doesn't make it all right.

Timothy Verdon, an American in charge of the Diocesan Office of Sacred Art and Church Cultural Heritage and the Cathedral Foundation Museum in Florence, was displeased with the man's actions.

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"In a globalized world like ours, the fundamental rules for visiting a museum have been forgotten, that is, "Do not touch the works,"' he told The Daily Mail.

Most of the precious works in Florence are kept from the public, with casts made available for viewing. Any originals open to the public are closely guarded.

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