A visitor to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, tripped over a shoelace, tumbled down a flight of stairs and smashed three priceless porcelain Chinese vases from the Qing Dynasty, reign of Kangxi (1662-1722), into "very, very small pieces" according to Margaret Greeves, the museum's assistant director. Although the accident happened last Wednesday, the news appeared only today. For the most complacent, not to say idiotic, quote of the week, museum director Duncan Robinson's words will take some beating: "...it is important not to over-react and make the Museum's collections less accessible to the visiting public"!
This story brings together two of my themes: 1. Who are the nincompoops guarding the world's treasures? and 2. Why don't they insure good colour photographs are taken of our treasures and posted on the Web, so we have a visual record of them? The broken vases shown by BBC News are in dismal monochrome. Click the title link to see them. Would you spot these vases in a car boot sale, if they had been stolen instead of smashed?