The incident was reminiscent of recent climate actions at European museums, however the prosecutor’s office announced on Tuesday that it has been deemed an isolated attack unconnected to any climate protection group. The suspect, a 53-year-old woman, was arrested on October 30 and has not offered a motive for why she sprayed the fake blood.
The Toulouse-Lautrec work, titled Clown, was examined in the Alte Nationalgalerie’s restoration workshop. The head of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Hermann Parzinger, said in a statement that the painting was not significantly damaged.
He told the German news agency dpa that the museum staff will “continue to do everything we can to protect the art in our collections while keeping them accessible with as few barriers as possible.”
Upon the woman’s arrest, news outlets speculated that the Alte Nationalgalerie incident was linked to the spate of climate actions at museums in Germany, Australia, Spain, and Italy.
Only days prior, the group Letzte Generation had thrown mashed potatoes across a Claude Monet painting in Potsdam. Letzte Generation, whose name translates to Last Generation, drew inspiration from the U.K.-based group Just Stop Oil, which staged the first climate interventions at museums. In October, at the Mauritshuis in the Hague, an activist wearing a Just Stop Oil shirt attempted to glue his head to Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring as another protestor attempted to pour red liquid over him.
In November, the International Council of Museums, a prominent industry group, released a statement signed by more than 90 museum leaders denouncing climate protests that involve targeting artworks. Among its signatories was Parzinger.
In a statement, the museum group said the protestors “severely underestimate the fragility” of the works, calling the art “irreplaceable.”