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Statement on the Act of Vandalism on 3 October 2020 in Museums on the Museumsinsel Berlin

21.10.2020
Museumsinsel Berlin

On 3 October 2020, exhibits in four museums on the Museumsinsel Berlin were sprayed with an oily substance. Most of the affected objects are in the Neues Museum and Pergamonmuseum,  along with a few objects in the exhibition building Pergamonmuseum. The Panorama and in the Alte Nationalgalerie.

The acts were not observed while being carried out. The perpetrator or perpetrators acted very covertly and apparently exploited moments in which the museum staff and other visitors were unable to observe them. So as not to impede investigations, until now, the museums have been obliged to remain silent about the incident.

The amount of liquid sprayed in each case was small, and in many cases the substance was able to be quickly removed. Visibly affected objects such as stone and wooden sculptures are already being examined and restoration work is underway. Initial results have been positive, but the restoration measures have not yet been completed. No paintings were directly affected.

The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin are dismayed by this act of vandalism and condemn it in the strongest terms. Our curatorial ethos and commitment to accessibility means that we seek to provide our visitors with direct contact with the exhibits, allowing a dialogue with the objects to emerge. To this end, many objects – especially sculptures – are not exhibited in display cases or behind glass. Millions of visitors appreciate this approach and treat the objects and exhibits with care and respect. However, this approach always implies a latent risk of deliberate or intentional damage. This risk can never be completely eliminated, even through strict security measures.

The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin are supporting the investigation efforts of the police and the State Office of Criminal Investigation, and request that visitors who may have observed the events in the museums on the Museumsinsel Berlin on 3 October 2020 provide relevant information to the LKA 444 (Tempelhofer Damm 12, 12101 Berlin) by calling + 49 (30) 4664-944409, or any other police station.

We hope the public will understand that in the interests of the ongoing investigations, we will not be providing any further information at this time.