Thursday, February 09, 2006

Smashing Vases

It isn’t very often that a news item from Cambridge, UK makes it to the Houston Chronicle, but today's "Newsmakers" item about Nick Flynn tripping over his shoelace at the Fitzwilliam Museum raised a smile. A more complete story is here.

Mr. Flynn retold the incident graphically: “I snagged my shoelace, missed the step and ‘crash bang wallop,’ there was a million pieces of high quality Qing ceramics lying around beneath me.”

While visiting my Dialogue colleagues at WAR in Cambridge, I have strolled through the Fitzwilliam several times: a sedate and enjoyable institution just a bit down the street from the University’s buildings. Eminently suited for a seat of ancient learning. Fitzwilliam has barred Mr. Flynn, a regular visitor, from returning.

The museum’s loss of three Qing dynasty vases is to be regretted. They’re worth US$175,000 and likely irreplaceable. But if the Fitzwilliam is thinking of a whip-round to buy Mr. Flynn a pair of loafers (or would the British call them “slip-ons,” which doesn’t necessarily sound much better, Qing vase-wise, does it?), I'll be glad to contribute a couple of pounds.

Former WAR Managing Director Robert Ware has written, “I have to say that I too was rather amused (or should I say horrified) by the story of the Fitzwilliam’s disaster. The spokesman quoted is actually a friend of mine, Duncan Robinson, who is both the Director of the Museum and also the Master of Magdalen College (obviously pronounced maudlin). A lovely man and actually married to an American artist from Vermont. But only a British museum could leave some of its exhibits to be shattered in such a way (actually, that's not true, the Italians are simply leaving Pompeii to the ravages of the weather)!”

If you’re visiting Cambridge and would like to tour the Fitzwilliam (without Qing vases and Mr. Flynn), Opening Hours are:
  • Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 - 17:00
  • Sunday: 12:00 - 17:00
  • Closed Mondays (except Bank Holidays, when open 12:00-17:00)
  • Closed Good Friday, 14 April 2006

Please note: photography is not permitted in the Museum. Nor is tripping over your shoelaces. And smashing priceless relics to bits - that’s right out.

No comments: