Clumsy Waiter Breaks Thumb on Ancient Roman Statue
It has been in the British Museum collection for over 200 years.
The incident, which was only acknowledged this week, took place during the set up for an event last December. The waiter, who was working for one of the external catering companies employed by the museum, got too close to the statue and bumped into it, knocking off the work’s right thumb.
Luckily, according to a museum spokesperson, it was a clean and easily-repaired break, with the restoration carried out in the gallery during off hours. “We have taken steps to ensure it does not happen again,” they told TAN. “Any staff who are involved in managing or invigilating events have gone through retraining on the protection of objects before and during events.”
The Townley Venus, which dates to the first or second century, is a Roman copy of a fourth-century BC Greek work depicting the goddess of love. The statuesque, half-nude Venus stands seven feet tall and is wrapped in drapery from the waist down.
It was excavated in 1775, amid the ruins of the baths at Ostia, Italy. The statue is named after English collector Charles Townley, who purchased it from its discoverer. His descendants sold the work to the British Museum in 1805.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a 2,000-year-old work of art, this is not the first time the Townley Venus has had an accident. A visitor to the museum bumped into the statue in 2012, rebreaking part of the work’s hand. As with the most recent incident, the damage was repaired.
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