Down Went The Crowns In A Domino Effect At One Los Angeles Gallery

by Heather Cassell

A woman got a bit too close to an exhibit of crowns displayed closely together on pedestals of varying heights while taking a selfie and lost her balance causing the crowns to tumble in a domino effect. The cost of the damage? $200,000.

It was, of course, all caught on video.

The incident that happened at the Simon Birch exhibit at the 14th Factory pop-up gallery (440 North Avenue 19, 323-223-3474, in Los Angeles occurred two weeks ago, but a video uploaded to YouTube July 14 is starting to go viral with 4,769 views and media coverage around the world by Saturday.

The New York Times questioned whether or not the video was staged as a publicity stunt because the video was uploaded by someone who claims to know the Hong Kong-based multimedia artist Simon and at the end of the video there’s a plug to go see the exhibit before it closes at the end of July, “or before a few more pieces break.”

Simon denies the video is a ploy telling the Times that it was a “true accident,” in an email.

In the modern age where documenting one’s goings about in the world and life is ubiquitous how can galleries and museums progress with the times while protecting art?

This surely isn’t the first, nor is it the last incident where art and selfie collide.

The Times points out several incidents where art has been damaged to the point of people being charged with destruction of public property to getting stuck in the artwork.

Girls That Roam would like to note that selfies with art doesn’t discriminate based on gender.

A young man in his mid-20s traveling in Lisbon last year was charged with destruction of public property after climbing a statute of Dom Sebastiao, a 16th-century king in Portugal. His scaling selfie ways caused the statute to crash and shatter and for local police to arrest him.

Another young man, an American student, got “stuck in a stone vulva” after climbing the 32-ton sculpture shaped like a vagina at Tubingen University in Germany for his selfie claim to fame in 2014. Firefighters had to get him unstuck.

However, many of the instances of overzealous selfie-takers artwork has been irreparably damaged. This leaves galleries and museums in a tough spot to allow patrons to interact with the art and take selfies (which in turn is free marketing and advertising), put up warning signs (which can be tacky), or allow guests of the art institutions of the world to continue clicking away?

“Museum selfies are an awesome way to engage audiences with your museum and collections,” writes Museum Hack on its website.

Museum Hack provides museum goers a unique unofficial experience providing tours of major museums around the United States.

Simon also didn’t believe there should be signs up around galleries and museums urging people to be careful.

“We trust people.” Simon says. “Crowns are fragile things. They are symbols of power. Perhaps it’s ironic and meaningful that they fell.”

It appears that galleries and museums are choosing to embrace the selfie while performing a balancing act to protect the artwork.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, “the Met”, is one of the museums that has taken a stand while attempting to embrace the modern world. The museum doesn’t allow selfie sticks, but it does embrace the spirit of the selfie among its annals of art, reports the Times.

“Visitors are here to enjoy our collection and exhibitions and the entire experience,” Lisa Krassner, chief member and visitor services officer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, tells the newspaper. “We welcome individuals capturing and sharing that experience through photography — as long as it’s done in a way that doesn’t endanger the art or interfere with the experience of others.”

The moral of the story is possibly to follow the rule of thumb at a zoo, but in this case, it’s a gallery or museum: Respect the artwork, keep your distance, and snap away.

Book your next artistic adventure with Girls That Roam Travel. Contact Heather Cassell at Girls That Roam Travel at 415-517-7239 or at .

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