Berlin museums ban bags in response to activists throwing food at art

1 min read
A Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painting in Berlin's Alte Nationalgalerie is among the artworks to have been hit by a liquid (in this case fake blood) as part of climate activism. Photo: Christophe Gateau/dpa

After soup, mashed potatoes and more were thrown at world-famous paintings in Berlin, Amsterdam, London and Rome, museums in the German capital are responding to the latest wave of climate activism by banning bags.

“Due to the increased risk,” visitors can only enter exhibition rooms after storing jackets and bags at the cloakroom or in lockers, as of November 4 until further notice, a spokeswoman for the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation announced. 

The measure is set to impact all of Berlin’s state museums (Staatliche Museen), which include much of the city’s best-known sights on the Museum Island.

The measure comes just days after activists aimed to draw attention to government inaction on climate change with a stunt near a dinosaur skeleton at the Natural History Museum and by lobbing fake blood at a painting protected by glass at the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery).

German museums had previously allowed bags up to A4 size into their halls, but are now expected to ramp up security measures after a number of high-profile incidents in which priceless artworks were doused in liquids.

On Sunday last week, two members of the Last Generation protest movement threw mashed potato at a painting from Monet’s “Les Meules” (Haystacks) series. No permanent damage was caused, as the painting is behind glass.

The most prominent protest to date may well be a group of climate activists splashing tomato soup earlier this month at Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” hanging in London’s National Gallery, but similar incidents have also occurred in a series of other cities, including Manchester and Glasgow.

Such protests have also frequently seen activists glue themselves to the walls or floor, and in many cases the paintings are not known to have sustained any damage due to their being protected by glass. ©dpa

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