Museum visitor breaks Qing vases

Published on Jan 30, 2006 01:09 PM IST

A clumsy visitor to a Cambridge museum has destroyed a set of priceless 300-year-old Chinese vases.

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None | ByAgence France-Presse, London

A clumsy visitor to a Cambridge museum has destroyed a set of priceless 300-year-old Chinese vases after tripping up on his shoelace, the Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

The three Qing vases, dating from the late 17th or early 18th century, had stood on a windowsill at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, southeast England, for at least 40 years. Their prominent position made them among its best-known artefacts, the paper said.

The report was accompanied by a photo, taken by another visitor, of the culprit, an unnamed man in his forties, attempting to pick himself up among the porcelain debris after the accident, which happened on an unspecified day last week.

Steve Baxter, another visitor who saw the accident, was quoted as saying: "We watched the man fall as if in slow motion. He landed in the middle of the vases and they splintered into a million pieces.

"He was still sitting there stunned when staff appeared. Everyone stood around in silence, as if in shock. Then the man started talking. He kept pointing to his shoelace and saying, 'There it is; that's the culprit.' "

"They are in very, very small pieces but we are determined to put them back together," said the museum's assistant director Margaret Greeves.

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