Imagine if you broke something at a museum. Usually you’d draw attention to yourself with some level of media coverage depending on what it was that you broke, and then the museum might demand something of you later. Earlier this week, a 12-year-old boy in Taiwan tripped and accidentally punched a hole in an Italian Baroque painting by Paolo Porpora. But there was similar story earlier in the week involving a young girl who accidentally knocked over and broke a two-millenia-year-old vase. The odd thing about this was the museum’s reaction: they thanked her.
The piece in question was a 2,000-year-old Roman vase kept at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The vase is part of the Robert and Renee Belfer Collection, featuring Egyptian, Roman and Byzantine artifacts. It’s not the most famous or most popular piece at the museum, like the Dead Sea Scrolls or the outdoor model of ancient Jerusalem. The vase is, however, a beautifully preserved piece. The girl and her family were visiting the museum on August 23rd, when the girl became transfixed on a Roman-era vase, displayed on a pedestal and encased in glass. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the girl was rocking the case back and forth, which caused the vase to fall and break. However, what museum officials didn’t realize up until closer examination was that the vase broke along an preexisting crack. “It would require a great effort to notice the crack with the naked eye,” said one museum spokesperson. The museum actually gave their thanks to the girl for causing the museum to look closer at the vase, and then further restore it. The vase is now stronger than it was before. Shortly after the incident, the vase was declared to be fully restored and put back on display.