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A 12-year-old boy had the worst museum visit ever this past Sunday, at Taipei's Huashan 1914 Creative Park. The boy tripped and punched a Paolo Porpora painting valued at $1.5 million as he was trying to keep his balance.

According to Focus Taiwan, the boy was with a guided tour group visiting the exhibition "The Face of Leonardo, Images of a Genius," which gathers 55 paintings by key artists starting from the Italian Renaissance and going up to the 20th century.

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Renaissance masterpieces, including a priceless painting by Raphael, are warping dramatically because of a failure to repair a broken air-conditioning system in one of Italy's best-known museums, experts warned on Thursday.

"The Deposition," painted by Raphael in 1507 and showing Christ being carried from the cross, is one of the paintings most at risk from humidity in the Borghese Gallery in Rome.

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Works damaged in two devastating fires in 1945 that destroyed around 400 paintings and sculptures stored in Berlin’s Friedrichshain bunker, including pieces by Caravaggio, Rubens and Donatello, are being presented in a new exhibition at the Bode Museum. “The Missing Museum: the Berlin Sculpture and Paintings Collections 70 Years after World War II”, which opened March 19, explores ethical and practical decisions museums face in regards to war-damaged works, namely whether they should be restored or left in their ruined state as a permanent reminder of the horrors of the conflict.

“One of the exhibition’s objectives is to bring these works back from oblivion into people’s consciousness,” says Julien Chapuis, the museum’s deputy director and curator of the show, adding that many of the pieces have not been exhibited since 1939.

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"Neptune's Daughter," a bronze sculpture that stood prominently in the Garden of Enchantment to the right of the de Young Museum until 2011, was vandalized that year and quietly removed from the garden without any press attention. The four-foot statue of a young girl atop a sea horse, created by artist Melvin Earl Cummings in 1926, was on prominent display at the museum for nearly 90 years before unidentified vandals pried off one of its arms and disappeared with it. And now, thanks to some Good Samaritans and the good will of the insurers, the arm has been restored and "Neptune's Daughter" will be rededicated next month.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, the museum had insured the sculpture with Lloyd's of London, who paid the museum just under six figures for it after a search of Golden Gate Park three years ago turned up no trace of the missing bronze arm.

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A Renaissance masterpiece by Raphael has warped because the air conditioning in a Rome museum has not worked for six months, raising questions once again over Italy’s ability or willingness to look after its precious cultural heritage.

In the heat and humidity of the Italian summer, the High Renaissance master’s "Deposition," which shows Christ being carried from the cross, became deformed, forcing officials in the capital’s Galleria Borghese to place a dehumidifier next to the art work in an attempt to save it.

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Mark Rothko's painting Black on Maroon has gone back on public display at London's Tate Modern gallery, 18 months after it was vandalised with graffiti.

The 1958 painting was defaced by Wlodzimierz Umaniec in October 2012. He was sent to prison as a result but has now apologised for his actions.

The Tate's conservators have spent 18 months repairing the painting.

Conservator Rachel Barker said: "It's definitely better than I could have hoped at the beginning of the project."

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Michael Altman Fine Art in New York is suing Pace Gallery in Seattle over a damaged painting by Willem de Kooning worth $6.4 million. Michael Altman Fine Art had purchased Untitled IV from Pace last December. The Abstract Expressionist canvas was later sent to a prospective buyer in Dallas who upon receiving the painting discovered a horizontal mark where packing materials had been adhered directly to the canvas. James Sowell, a Dallas-based real estate developer, turned down the painting after seeing the damage.

In a case filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Michael Altman Fine Art claimed that Pace failed to take proper and adequate precautions while packing and handling the work. The gallery is suing to recover the $1.25 million it will cost to repair the painting.  

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An American tourist broke a finger off of a 600-year-old statue housed in Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, which boasts a significant sculpture collection dating from the Renaissance and medieval periods. The damaged statue, which is thought to depict the Virgin Mary and dates from either the 14th or 15th century, is part of a work titled Annunciazione. The sculpture is believed to be by the Florentine sculptor Giovanni d’Ambrogio.

The tourist, a 55-year-old man from Missouri, allegedly snapped off the right pinky finger of the statue while attempting to measure it. While the incident appears to have been an accident, Italian officials questioned the American and will determine what action to take. It is unclear how much it will cost to fix the finger, which was not original to the work and was added to the sculpture at some point after its completion.

Tim Verdun, the director of the museum, said that “in a globalized world like ours, the fundamental rules for visiting a museum have been forgotten, that is: Do not touch the works.”

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Tuesday, 12 February 2013 13:45

Prominent Henry Moore Sculpture will be Restored

Henry Moore’s (1898-1986) severely damaged sculpture Knife Edge Two Piece (1965) will finally be restored according to the Parliamentary Art Collection. The sculpture, which is prominently displays outside of the Houses of Parliament in London, is England’s most revered work by the British sculptor.

Moore and the Contemporary Art Society donated Knife Edge Two Piece to England in 1967 but the work fell into disrepair after administrative changes left it with no legal owner. Eventually, the British government suggested that the House of Commons take ownership for the sculpture and that the Parliamentary Art Collection take responsibility for the its care.

The bronze sculpture, which is marred by discoloration, deterioration, and incised graffiti, will undergo conservation beginning February 16, 2013. Conservator Rupert Harris will lead the effort, which involves removing the sculpture’s protective lacquer and abrading its surface to eliminate the damage. The work will then be repatinated and treated with wax in order to protect it from future environmental damage.

The conservation project is expected to cost a little over $50,000 with most of the funding coming from the Parliamentary Art Collection. The Henry Moore Foundation will contribute about $17,000 to the effort. The Knife Edge Two Piece restoration project is expected to reach completion at the end of March 2013.

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Monday, 14 January 2013 13:36

Damaged Picasso Murals Could be Torn Down

Between the late 1950s and early 1970s Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) completed two major concrete murals on separate government buildings in Oslo, Norway. After suffering severe damaged during a terrorist attack on the city in 2011, the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage fears that the monumental public masterpieces could be demolished.

Officials have been considering tearing down the buildings, which make up Oslo’s government quarter, and integrating the salvaged murals into a new structure or relocating the work to an entirely new site. However, some feel that altering and moving the work would destroy Picasso’s vision. A number of architects are working on proposals that include both retaining the buildings, which are important examples of Norwegian architecture, and leveling them. The various plans will be presented to the minister for government administration this summer.

Picasso made sketches for five murals that were executed as both interior and exterior works. The project in Oslo was the first time Picasso had ever worked with breccia, a rock material composed of broken rock and mineral fragments held together by a fine-grained matrix. Although He went on to create similar works in Barcelona and Stockholm, the Oslo murals remain seminal works for Picasso.

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