5 Tourist Art Disasters to Avoid while on Holiday This Summer

Don't be a bungling tourist.

Duane Hanson Tourists II (1988) Photo: Saatchi Gallery
Duane Hanson Tourists II (1988) Photo: Saatchi Gallery

Duane Hanson Tourists II (1988)
Photo: Saatchi Gallery

When traveling abroad it’s important to be mindful of the host country’s customs and culture. This is especially true when visiting museums or exploring historic, ancient or artistic sites.

While such a basic etiquette seems logical for the majority of tourists, some visitors seem to think that different rules apply when they’re in a different country. Sometimes lapses of judgement result in disastrous, if hilarious examples of tomfoolery.

Only recently a trio of Korean tourists caused a security scare after crashing a drone into Milan’s Cathedral, narrowly missing the gold Madonna statue on top of the Duomo’s central spire.

Sensing the need for some tighter guidelines out there, we’ve compiled a list of examples from our archive for you to consider. Here’s what NOT to do when going on vacation abroad this summer:

Inside of the Colosseum or Flavian amphitheatre, 70/72 - 80 DC in Rome. Photo: Jean-Pol Grandmont

Inside of the Colosseum or Flavian amphitheatre, 70/72 – 80 DC in Rome.
Photo: Jean-Pol Grandmont

1. Don’t carve your initials into ancient sites

A Russian tourist was fined €20,000 ($22,490) for carving his initial into Rome’s Colosseum, he also got a four-month suspended sentence for his trouble. We presume he didn’t factor in an extra twenty grand for his travel budget to spend on vandalism.

“You cannot write on a historic wall, it’s absolutely forbidden,” the director of the Colosseum Rossella Rea said. Just in case you don’t want to take our word for it.

pompeii-theft-tourists

The House of the Faun at Pompeii.
Photo: Porsche997SBS/Wikimedia Commons.

2. Don’t steal ancient artifacts

Ranking pretty high in the stupidity stakes are two American tourists who were busted at Fiumicino airport in Rome after customs officials discovered a 29 kg (65 lbs) relic in their luggage. The couple was charged with appropriation of state heritage.

Just how they thought they were going to get away with it is anybody’s guess. Just to be clear, the US Embassy website reminds tourists that “while you are traveling in Italy, you are subject to its laws.”

This topless photo was taken at temple of Banteay Kdei at Angkor Wat. Photo: WANIMAL.

This topless photo was taken at temple of Banteay Kdei at Angkor Wat.
Photo: WANIMAL.

3. Don’t take naked pictures at religious sites

Three French men in their twenties were arrested in Cambodia in February last year on charges of public exposure and pornography after they’ve decided it would be a great idea to take nude pictures of each other at Angkor Wat Temple.

The three were given a six-month suspended sentence, fined $750, and were banned from entering Cambodia for four years.

Kart Buntham, a Cambodian senior heritage police officer explained, “Their activities affect our culture. Nobody should take nude pictures at ancient temples.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

A 19th-century copy of the ancient Greek statue the Drunken Satyr has been the victim of a vicious selfie attack. Photo: Nicola Vaglia, courtesy Corriere della Sera.

A 19th-century copy of the ancient Greek statue the Drunken Satyr has been the victim of a vicious selfie attack.
Photo: Nicola Vaglia, courtesy Corriere della Sera.

4. Don’t smash, break or damage artworks

When selfies go wrong: an Italian student smashed a Greek sculpture at Milan’s Academy of Fine Arts of Brera after he hopped on its lap in order to capture that perfect selfie. Fortunately the sculpture was a 19th-century copy of the priceless ancient Greek original, which was safely stored nearby.

An American student waiting for firefighters to free him from Fernando de la Jara's marble vagina sculpture, Chacán-Pi (Making Love), at Germany's Tübingen University. Photo: Erick Guzman, via Imgur.

An American student waiting for firefighters to free him from Fernando de la Jara’s marble vagina sculpture, Chacán-Pi (Making Love), at Germany’s Tübingen University. Photo: Erick Guzman, via Imgur.

5. Don’t take selfies in absurd places

Firefighters responded to a distress call at Tübingen University, Germany, where they were told a student had become “stuck in a stone vulva.”

It took twenty-two firefighters, five firetrucks and a team of paramedics to free the bungling scholar from the 32-ton red marble vagina by Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara. To make things worse, the tables turned when a fellow student snapped some embarrassing evidence of the incident, which promptly went viral on social media.


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