If you're active on social media, you might have noticed a recent spate of incidents involving museum artifacts being accidentally damaged by careless selfie snappers and curious looky loos who just can't resist touching a piece of art or a priceless historical doodad. Many of these disastrous events have gone viral (especially when there's video).
There was the guy who broke a wooden clock by tugging it right off the wall at a museum in Pennsylvania, the 90-year-old woman in Germany who filled in a crossword puzzle that was part of an art installation, the two kids in China who shattered a glass sculpture by pulling on it as their parents took photos, and, last month, the two boys in Norway who used a sharp object to outline a 5,000-year-old carving thought to be one of the earliest depictions of skiing. They evidently intended to "fix" the carving by making it more visible, but they left it permanently marred.
Museum experts point out that these disasters, despite their high profile on social media, are outliers (fortunately). But they think it's still worth reminding the public to be cautious while taking photographs and avoid touching displays unless you're encouraged to do so. The ideal balance is between making collections accessible while preserving them at the same time.