The striking and world-famous granite bowl in front of the Altes Museum has been badly damaged.
Graffiti and vulgar remarks were sprayed on the granite bowl in front of the Altes Museum. On Berlin's Museum Island another case of vandalism has occurred. A large granite bowl in thepleasure garden in front of the Altes Museum was defaced, the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz announced on Saturday, October 24.
The granite bowl is the largest bowl in the world made of a single stone. The bowl, created by Johann Gottlieb Christian Cantian, was commissioned by King Friedrich Wilhelm III in 1826, according to the Monument Office. The bowl with a diameter of almost seven meters was cut from a single granite boulder. The elaborate work of art was given the nickname "Biedermeier wonder of the world".
The latest vandalism occurred around three weeks after the smearing of 63 works of art in the museums.
On October 3rd 2020, at least 63 works of art and artefacts were sprayed with an oily, transparent liquid that has left visible stains on Egyptian sarcophagi, stone sculptures and 19th century paintings at the Pergamon Museum, the Neues Museum and the Alte Nationalgalerie.
The attack is neither an art action nor a cultural statement. Nor is it directed against a particular museum or a particular type of object - otherwise the trail of destruction would not be so randomly drawn from the Pergamon Panorama to the Pergamon Museum and the Neues Museum to the Alte Nationalgalerie.
The oil spraying of Berlin is an attack on museums in general. It is much less about the individual exhibits, but rather about the status they enjoy: the significance of being a museum.
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The damage was apparently caused with full intention. Whether it was senseless vandalism or a targeted attack - perhaps intentional on the Day of German Unity - is under investigation. As confirmed by the National Museums in Berlin, the damage took place during opening hours: "The soiling was not observed during the perpetration. The perpetrator(s) acted very covertly and apparently took advantage of moments when the supervisory staff and other visitors were unable to witness their action".
News of the attack was kept from the public for more than two weeks. German media have linked the museum island attack to conspiracy theories pushed through social media channels by prominent coronavirus deniers in recent months.
One such theory claims that the Pergamon Museum is the centre of the “global satanism scene” because it holds a reconstruction of the ancient Greek Pergamon Altar. The vandals from the Museum Island have something of lost spirits. But they must be taken seriously. Attacks like the ones that have just happened are not only directed at the exhibits, but at the museum as an institution.
Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters strongly condemned the vandalism. It is directed "against artistic forms of expression, against the cultural heritage of all of us, against civil forms of conflict and thus against the principles of our democratic self-image. The attacks showed a deep contempt for works of art and cultural achievements in general.
She called for better security precautions at the National Museums: "I immediately asked the President to submit a comprehensive report on this to the Foundation Board," said the State Minister of Culture. "It must be clarified how these many damages could have gone unnoticed and how such attacks are to be prevented in the future”.
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