18th Century Statue Toppled After Botched Selfie Attempt in Museum

A museum in Lisbon is asking visitors to refrain from taking selfies after a tourist knocked over an 18th century statue while attempting to pose with it for a photo earlier this month.

The National Museum of Ancient Art (NMAA) posted the Facebook status update alongside a photo of the archangel Saint Michael sculpture before it was toppled. Reports say a Brazilian tourist lost their footing and backed into the art piece which stood at the center of the room.

A witness, Nuno Miguel Rodriges, told Público that the room was filled with silence as everyone couldn’t believe what had just happened. NMAA deputy director José Alberto Seabra Carvalho also described the situation as deplorable, telling Diário de Notícias that “the statue is very affected in the wings, in one arm and mantle.”


Despite being significantly damaged by the fall, the museum has sent the polychrome wooden sculpture to its conservation team in an attempt the salvage the art piece. The museum will consider installing a plinth to protect the statue when it returns to the gallery (although it didn’t exactly help a US$1.5 million painting from getting a hole punched right through it).

As tragic as the news seems, it doesn’t compare to selfie-taking tourist who destroyed a 16th century statue by climbing it, or the boys who destroyed a pair of angel wings while their mothers snapped photos.

All of these cases serve to remind us that visitors should see with their eyes, not their cameras.