Protecting Collectibles at Home – A painful lesson to be learned from the “professionals” at the Borghese Gallery in Rome

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A painful lesson to be learned from the “professionals” at the Borghese Gallery in Rome for protecting collectibles at home.

Yesterday afternoon, May 4, a tourist fell in front of the work of the 1610 canvas of St. Francis receiving the stigmata, at the Galleria Borghese in Rome during the exhibition “Il sacro e la natura,”dedicated to the Bolognese painter Guido Reni. In losing her balance, the woman accidentally damaged the canvas causing a cut of about 2”.  The reason for the fall of the tourist is not yet clear.  There are those who claim that the lady had a faint and, in an attempt not to tumble to the ground, she tried to cling to the barriers that separate visitors from the works on display, except not being able to avoid bumping into the painting.  Still others argue that the damage to the work was due to a “misstep” by the tourist, who would have tripped over the staging of the exhibition and, risking to fall, involuntarily bumped into the work, damaging it.

According to reports from other visitors, however, the lady would not be the first person to stumble upon the dividers placed at calf height between the works and visitors. In fact, on the day of the inauguration of the exhibition, a journalist fell after tripping between the “barriers”, fortunately without damaging the works on display.

Ripped… and then ripped some more from being leaned on in storage. It looks like Mr. Bean was in change!

Displaying cherished or valuable works of art and collectibles at home or the office should always take into consideration foot traffic, overly active visitors (grandchildren?), can a pet get to the collectible and whether do you live in earthquake country, hurricane country etc.  My personal space experience is that people are often oblivious to the safety of the artwork as they go about the creative process of decorating. I’ve also seen works of art lose significant value when they are damaged. Besides placement considerations in homes and offices, lots of things get damaged in storage as things are leaned on each other without proper protection, FYI.

I post often about the care and thinking process that needs to take place when you are hanging/displaying artwork. One idea I always suggest, always over-engineer the “hanging system.” If your painting and frame weigh 10 lbs, what’s the harm in using a 100 lb hook on the wall? In fact, use two!! Do you live in a hurricane , tornado or earthquake area… ore next to a military complex with supersonic jets? I’ve seen knocked over and valuable paintings fall from the wall from sonic booms!! Your art hanging needs will be different if you live in areas where your building make shake than if you live out in the middle of nowhere in NV… but, consider that active grandkids can be just as dangerous for your treasured collectibles.  Learn a valuable lesson from the team at the Borghese Gallery in Rome with this article!

So, there you go! I just saved you between $1,000 and $10,000 in repair costs (+ loss of value?)!!! 

Another suggestion would be the use of an anchoring wax to hold things in place in case of impact or vibrations. On YouTube search for “museum wax, Scott Haskins“

You’re welcome!

Questions? Call Scott M. Haskins or Virginia Panizzon, Art Conservators 805 564 3438

This can be infuriating because this damage was TOTALLY avoidable! Fixed correctly, this could be a $500 – $2,000 repair depending on several details… or your favorite do-it-yourselfer could fix it with some wood glue and a bottle of gold colored paint and have it look “ghetto’ for the next few decades.


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About Scott M. Haskins

Scott Haskins has been in professional art conservation since 1975, specializing in the conservation/restoration of easel paintings, murals and art on paper. FACL, Inc. is known nationally for doing A+ work no matter the size or difficulty of the project. We are happy to do a quick cleaning on a family heirloom. Our client list and resume is also full of very satisfied clients of large, difficult/complicated projects at remote locations. Excellent services are also available as an Expert Witness/Legal Testimony in art related matters. Consultation on art related projects occur regularly including extensive insurance evaluations for insured or insurer. Services are offered worldwide. Scott M. Haskins is also author of the "Save Your Stuff" series, educational information, materials and supplies to help people protect and save their treasured family heirlooms and collectibles at home and office. He can be reached at 805 564 3438. Video and written testimonials at
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