A visitor to the Museo Antonio Canova in Possagno, Italy, damaged a plaster model of a 19th-century sculpture while trying to take a selfie with the artwork. According to a post on the institution’s Facebook page, an Austrian tourist sat on the work, causing two of its toes to break off.
The model that was damaged corresponds to Canova’s marble sculpture Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix, which is part of the collection of the Galleria Borghese in Rome and depicts Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister as the Roman goddess of love. The Museo Antonio Canova said in its Facebook post that the visitor swiftly moved away from the damaged work and did not alert staff to the incident on July 31. A guard spotted the broken toes and surveillance footage subsequently confirmed what had transpired.
“Our heritage must be protected: adopting responsible behavior within the Museum while respecting the works and goods preserved in it is not only a civic duty, but a sign of respect for what our history and culture testifies and that must be proudly handed down to future generations,” the museum wrote on Facebook.
The museum is making plans to restore the damaged sculpture, and the visitor has been identified as a result of a pandemic-related name registration requirement upon entry to Italian museums. The tourist has not yet been found following their departure from the institution.
Moira Mascotto, director of the Museo Antonio Canova, told the Austrian Press Agency that the museum is in possession of “the broken parts of the gypsum. That helps us with the restoration.”