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Thursday 23rd October 2014
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What happens if you break something in a museum?

Question

Natural-History-Museum-Thum.jpgWhat happens if you go into a museum and you knock over a priceless antique? Are you responsible for paying for it?
Graham, East Kilbride

Answer

** Definitive **
Name: Bob, Gravesend
Qualification: Managed a company who did some work in the V&A
Answer: Our operatives were masking some ducting in the ceiling. He climbed the ladder and the opening to the duct was over a terracotta cardinal bust, with the cardinal’s head through the rungs. He fell off the ladder, which slipped and chopped the cardinal’s head off. Security found him trying to fix the cardinal back together with spit. The V&A asked us for money to repair it and we had to pay £350,000 from our insurers.
(James O’Brien: Brilliant story. But what happens if a member of the public without insurance does it?)

** Double Definitive **
Name: Emma, Surrey
Qualification: Work in a museum
Answer: If a member of the public does it, the government has an indemnity scheme for national museums, which would pay for the damage on your behalf. If it was a local authority museum, it would be covered by their own insurance. Members of the public would not be responsible for it.

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