Still from the security footage that captured the incident in Overland Park, Kansas. Courtesy of the City of Overland Park.
For some museumgoers, the fear of damaging an artwork can come off as a bit paranoid. Most museums and galleries have guards that block off the distance you should stand from an artwork, and incorporate floor plans to minimize the chances of an accidental booty-bump. But, even if you do accidentally break an artwork, most art institutions have specialized insurance to cover the cost of the damage. Only on the very, very rare occasion would you ever get footed with the bill.
Such may be the case for two Kansas parents, whose child embraced a sculpture, causing it to topple. The incident took place last week at the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center, which features a “unique, not-for-profit gallery space,” that offers artists “a showcase for their work in the heart of Overland Park.” For a recent exhibition, the gallery space––which is technically a public entity––borrowed a work by artist Bill Lyons, worth $132,000. The family was attending a wedding at the community center, and while the child’s parents chatted on a nearby couch, the five-year-old hugged the artwork to the ground, causing serious damage.
The community center then gathered the family’s information and address, which is a typical procedure used for insurance claims. But after the Overland Park’s insurance company investigated the incident, they sent a letter to the parents, saying they were “negligent for not monitoring their children,” reports local source KSHB.
However, Sean Reilly, a spokesman for the City of Overland Park, told CBSNews that “We are responsible to protect the public investment,” and that “our insurance company is reaching out to the family to talk to their insurance company. We are not billing the family.”