The museum's director, Letizia Ragaglia, told Italian newspaper Alto Adigethat the cleaning staff had been warned not to disturb the artwork. "We told them just to clean the foyer because that's where the event on Friday night had been. Evidently, they mistook the installation for the foyer," she lamented, as translated by Local It.
Fortunately, the janitorial staff had conscientiously sorted the artwork into glass and paper for recycling, and the museum expects to be able to salvage and reinstall it. According to the Museion Facebook page, a sign posted at the museum assures visitors "The work will be restored soon."
"The Museion has been supportive of Goldschmied & Chiari for many years and so I'm sure they will do a great job at re-installing the work," galleristKristen Lorello, who represents the artists in New York, told artnet News in an e-mail. "The re-installation should be happening today."
This isn't the first time such a mistake has been made, of course. This summer, a Connecticut maintenance worker dismantled and trashed a wood and tile sculpture by New York-based artist Jim Osman, and a $3.71 million Cui Ruzhuo painting was thrown out by hotel cleaning staff in Hong Kong this past spring. There's also the 26-foot-tall Forever Marilyn (a J. Seward Johnson knock-off) that mysteriously wound up in a Chinese dump.
Of course, there's another side to the coin: Just as artists' work is sometimes mistaken for garbage, artists can also turn to the trash for inspiration. Environmentally-minded artworks sometimes use garbage as a medium, such as plastic ocean waste turned into aquatic sculpture at at the San Francisco Zoo, or the month's worth of trash collected fromScience Museum visitors in London by British artist Joshua Sofaer.
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