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January 26, 2003 12:29 AM   Subscribe

Museum-Security is a community site for museum professionals I recently stumbled across. I post because museums always struck me as pristine temples, and the site's matter of fact discussions and lists of property theft presented a dose of fascinating reality to an underbelly I'd never considered.
posted by rudyfink (11 comments total)
Interesting link (a couple of branches away from your first link above) detailing the greatest art thefts of the 20th century. Fascinating. (I didn't know what an interesting story the Gardner Museum theft was.)
posted by Vidiot at 2:23 AM on January 26, 2003

There is currently a tv series on this very subject running on BBC4 in the UK on Thursday nights [link]
posted by feelinglistless at 4:02 AM on January 26, 2003

Interesting topic, rudyfink!
Here in Massachusetts, we've had a few major museum thefts, so it has been quite a topic for discussion...in 1972, some gun toting thieves stole a Rembrandt, Picasso, and Gauguin from the Worcester Art Museum in broad daylight after shooting a guard. All art was recovered, and the guard recovered too. And in the incident Vidiot points too, in 1990 at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston (which, incidentally, is a true gem of a museum), men dressed as workmen tied up guards and made of with 13 pieces of art - including a Vermeer - that are still missing today.

Here's a few articles by art critic Jason Kaufman who offers an overview of museum efforts to thwart theft, in which he also talks about how art crimes have historically been hushed by image-conscious museums as not to spook potential donors.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:55 AM on January 26, 2003

consider the underbelly.
posted by quonsar at 8:03 AM on January 26, 2003

detailing the greatest art thefts of the 20th century

Although those listed may be great (Mona Lisa, et al), I think this may be the greatest theft of art ever. Thankfully it was recovered.
posted by m@ at 9:33 AM on January 26, 2003

Theft may be bad, but Amsterdam has a madman walking around and destroying modern art. Surprisingly, officials have legal trouble to keep him out of the museum. I always liked the fact that there was no glass etc. protecting the paintings, but this may be history soon.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 10:00 AM on January 26, 2003

The Gardner Museum theft makes me so angry. So much art and only two unarmed, untrained, underpaid guards to protect it.

Post-robbery and entirely by chance, I became friendly with one of the men working as a guard at the museum that night. He said that as they handcuffed him, they said, "Don't fight and you won't get hurt." He replied, "They don't pay me enough to get hurt."

The robbers put both guards in the basement and chained them to solid objects. The guards waited for nine hours before the police found them.

I will never understand why the Gardner didn't have a silent alarm wired to major pieces in their collection.
posted by swerve at 12:52 PM on January 26, 2003

Does anyone know what happened to that "non-violent" first-person computer game about an art thief? Anyone remember that?
posted by kevspace at 1:17 PM on January 26, 2003

Mmmm...art world underbelly...so soft...

Thanks for the great find, rudyfink.
posted by mediareport at 1:28 PM on January 26, 2003

There's a MeFi thread here about the Art Crimes website. Some vandalism was done for political reasons, while others blur the line between dadaist performance pieces and complete batshit lunacy. My favorite is Jubal Brown vomiting blue cake icing on paintings by Mondrian.
posted by jonp72 at 5:08 PM on January 26, 2003

You can also find interesting stories in the News section of the Global Museum webpage
posted by gudrun at 8:47 PM on January 26, 2003

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