American Tourist Snaps Finger Off 600-Year-Old Statue in Florence Museum

Don't pull its finger

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A close-up of the damaged statue displayed at Florence's Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence, Italy, August 5, 2013.

Hoping to overcome the stereotype of the obnoxious, ignorant American abroad? An unidentified U.S. tourist who snapped a finger off a 600-year-old statue in an Italian museum hasn’t helped the cause.

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No, the tourist wasn’t drunk, being belligerent, in a brawl, dangling from the statue wearing nothing but his skivvies or whatever other wild imagery your brain might conjure: The reportedly 55-year-old Missouri native was simply trying to measure the statue’s pinky finger, holding his own hand up to the statue’s outstretched one. But the museum — like most museums that harbor centuries-old works of art — has a no-touching rule that the tourist allegedly flouted, leading to the tragic act of digital disfigurement.

“In a globalized world like ours, the fundamental rules for visiting a museum have been forgotten, that is, ‘Do not touch the works’,” said museum head Timothy Verdon, via the NY Daily News, which reports that the tourist has since apologized and has been described as “very disappointed.”



The statue, dubbed “Annunciazione” and located in Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (“Museum of the Works of the Cathedral”), is of the Virgin Mary, by 15th century Florentine sculptor Giovanni d’Ambrogio. Apparently the pinky finger wasn’t original to the statue, having been made of plaster and added at a later point: The finger didn’t snap off entirely at the time the act occurred, and restorers were able to remove it before it fell to the ground; they’ll now work to reunite the statue with its missing digit.

“It is a fairly simple restoration will be done by the restorers of the Opera del Duomo,” the museum told the Daily News.

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