Another national ‘jewel’ bites dust as museum curator warns “catastrophe” is round the corner

Yet another national jewel has crashed to the floor in pieces thanks to the ‘distraction’ and/ or thoughtlessness of today’s mania to capture selfies and photographs.

This time round, it appears not to have been a selfie.

A “distracted” Brazilian tourist, intent on photographing an exhibit in Lisbon’s national museum of ancient art (MNAA) backed into an 18th century wooden sculpture of the archangel São Miguel, and the sad results have now been widely shared over national and social media.

São Miguel will be needing extensive repairwork but is likely to return eventually to his plinth on the 3rd floor of the famous national museum.

His fall from grace however has added fuel to the fire of the museum’s director who warned only two months ago that low staffing levels mean “catastrophe” will always be ‘just around the corner’.

The “necessities” of the MNAA are different to those of other museums, António Filipe Pimentel explained, as there are only 64 staff members (many of whom are not responsible for watching exhibits) and over 80 rooms – all of them stuffed with national treasures.

Nuno Miguel Rodrigues, the visitor who photographed the dismal images of São Miguel on the floor – quickly posting them on social media – dubbed the incident “the price to pay” for the museum’s ‘free Sunday’, afforded to museum-goers once a month.

The MNAA is the “second most visited” national museum (the first being Lisbon’s Coach Museum) and last year registered 163,788 entries, without any major damages.

Earlier this year, a young man from northern Portugal inadvertently destroyed the statue of Dom Sebastião at Lisbon’s Rossio railway station after climbing up to it to take a selfie (click here). In this case, the damage was deemed irreparable, but luck would have it that an identical statue was discovered in the possession of the Institute of Ophthalmology Doutor Gama Pinto and may well be offered as a replacement.

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