Security breaches at Tate, British Museum and Musée d’Orsay

A Monet suffered a 10cm tear from being punched


A security breach occurred at Tate Modern on 27 May, which resulted in minor damage to a work of art. The unreported incident took place during the Long Weekend, marking the opening of the new displays. Two guests at an evening event entered a level five gallery which was supposed to be closed. They “interfered with a work, but there was no permanent damage”, according to a Tate spokesperson. Alarms were triggered and the guests were apprehended. The work was on loan, and the owner was immediately informed. Conservators have dealt with the minor damage. Tate says that following the incident, “security procedures for events were fully reviewed”.

Another incident occurred at the British Museum on 14 October, in the exhibition on China’s Terracotta Army. At around 11am, a protester jumped over a barrier to place surgical masks bearing the text “CO2” on the heads of two of the life-size warriors. Martin Wyness was detained by museum security staff. He later said that “it was something I had to do to raise awareness” of the problem of climate change. A British Museum spokesperson said that “no damage was sustained”, and that security measures will be re-examined.

Meanwhile, in a much more serious incident in Paris, a Monet painting was severely damaged. In the early hours of 7 October, a group of five young people broke into the Musée d’Orsay and entered a nearby gallery where Monet’s Le Pont d’Argenteuil was on display. One of them punched a ten centimetre tear in the canvas. Although an alarm sounded, the group escaped. Two days later, four men and a women were questioned and preliminary court charges were filed on 11 October.