NYPD Surround Metropolitan Museum of Art and Other New York Museums After Tunis Attacks

Is there a real threat to New York's museums from ISIS terrorists?

Armed NYPD outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Extra police have been assigned to protect New York’s major museums in the wake of a terrorist attack this week at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, the Tunisian capital, reports ABC News.

See Gunmen Kill 23 Including Tourists in Attack at Tunisia’s National Bardo Museum and Nine Arrests as ISIS Claims Credit for Bardo Museum Attack in Tunisia.

The NYPD did not confirm or deny the report to artnet News, saying only, “Our Critical Response Vehicle teams and Hercules Teams are being briefed on the Tunisia events including tactics and casualties. We monitor world events and shift resources daily based on those events, threat information and intelligence.”

“They have to think now, ‘Is ISIS going after cultural heritage? Are they going after museums? And could our museum be next?’” said Peter Herdrich of the Antiquities Coalition in ABC News’ report.

The answer to the first question is yes; the Islamic State has released numerous videos of attacks on cultural institutions in Iraq.

The Met’s director Thomas Campbell took a hyperbolic stance on the occasion of the latest museum attack, in February, sending an email saying that “Such wanton brutality must stop, before all vestiges of the ancient world are obliterated,” despite that eventuality seeming unlikely. It also turns out the destruction of the sculptures he was referring too, in the video, were apparently mostly replicas. Oops. (See Did ISIS Smash Fake Sculptures in Mosul? Experts Say Many of Them Were Replicas.)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art did not immediately respond to a request for information on the latest security measures. A spokesperson for the Museum of Modern Art said the institution had nothing to add to the NYPD’s statement.

The answer to Herdrich’s second question is less certain, and the notion of an imminent threat to New York museums seems far-fetched. ISIS alarmism is rife among hawkish American politicians. South Carolina senator Lindsay Graham, for example, told Fox News in September that “This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home,” leading to withering parody by Jon Stewart.

The NYPD stationed outside the Museum of Modern Art today.Photo Stacey Leigh.

The NYPD stationed outside the Museum of Modern Art today.
Photo: Stacey Leigh.

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