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American tourist breaks finger off statue in Florence museum

August 07, 2013|By David Ng | This post has been corrected, as indicated below
  • A statue by Florentine sculptor Giovanni d'Ambrogio lost a finger after it was reportedly broken off by an American tourist.
A statue by Florentine sculptor Giovanni d'Ambrogio lost a finger… (Maurizio Degl'Innocenti…)

A 600-year-old statue residing in a museum in Florence, Italy, has one fewer finger on its right hand thanks to an American tourist who came in contact with the artwork and broke off a digit.

The tourist, whose name has not been reported, allegedly broke off the right pinky finger of the statue while attempting to measure it. The incident is thought to have been an accident, but officials in Italy questioned the American and are weighing what action to take.

Reports have described the tourist as a 55-year-old man from Missouri. 

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The statue, which is thought to depict the Virgin Mary, dates from either the 14th or 15th century. It is part of a work titled "Annunciazione," located at Florence's Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, which contains a significant collection of sculptural artwork dating from the Renaissance and medieval periods.

One mitigating factor might be that the broken finger was not original to the statue. According to reports, the plaster digit was added to the work at some point after its completion.

Tim Verdun, director of the museum, has been quoted as saying that "in a globalized world like ours, the fundamental rules for visiting a museum have been forgotten, that is: Do not touch the works."

The statue is believed to be the creation of Giovanni d'Ambrogio, a Florentine sculptor who lived during the late medieval or early Renaissance periods. 

[For the Record, 6:35 p.m. Aug. 7: An earlier version of this post erred in stating that the broken finger was on the statue's left hand.]


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