With the Cezanne masterwork ‘The Boy in the Red Vest’ turning up in Serbia, the president of the Swiss Museums Association Gianna Mina has reflected on what went wrong in 2008 when the work was stolen from the Bührle collection in Zurich
It has been suggested by experts that the thieves were amateurs, ignorant of the difficulties of peddling stolen artworks, who simply identified lax security in the Zurich museum. Speaking to swissinfo.ch, Mina agrees that Swiss museums were naive, underestimating the threat of art theft.
‘We lived in a kind of limbo for decades thinking this would not happen – and certainly not in Zurich’: ‘[and now] we’ve become aware that this can happen – that museums are not secure just because they are called museums’.
2008 made museum directors undergo ‘a sort of security check-up’. But equally, Mina speaks of the reality that museums will never be able to make artworks ‘absolutely safe’. This reality is due to the fact that ‘the destiny of works of art is not to be hung in bunkers but to be seen. … [museums] are a lively space, they have visitors’: ‘One of our main tasks is not only to preserve works of art, look after them, hang them properly and protect them, but to work with the public to make our houses accessible’. ‘Either you secure your works 100 per cent and then they are not made available to the public, or you let the public in and you have this risk’, she explained.
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