environment Why Are So Many People Destroying Priceless Art These Days? Protesters are desperate to get their message out. Photo by Rob Pinney/Getty Images
News that is entertaining to read Subscribe for free to get more stories like this directly to your inbox

You might have heard one of the several stories recently involving protesters throwing food on artwork or gluing themselves to the floors of museums. The latest incident involved a demonstrator who attempted to affix his head to “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” a Johannes Vermeer painting on display at the Mauritshuis museum in the Netherlands.

Just Stop Oil

As it turns out, these stunts are being organized by a climate activist group called Just Stop Oil. Fortunately, most of the priceless works of art targeted by the protesters were behind protective glass and were not damaged. Nevertheless, the group’s actions have had the intended result of gaining worldwide attention for the cause of environmentalism.

As the activist in the aforementioned incident at the Mauritshuis shouted at onlookers: “How do you feel when you see something beautiful and priceless being destroyed before your eyes? Do you feel outraged? Good. Where is that feeling when you see the planet being destroyed before your eyes?”

A Mixed Reception

Not everyone is pleased to see these folks show up and attempt to damage or destroy irreplaceable works of art. Even some people who might otherwise agree with Just Stop Oil’s message have spoken out against these stunts.

“They sure know how to get attention,” tweeted Mother Jones editor Michael Mechanic. “And while their passion is admirable, their tactics are repugnant. Why Van Gogh. Couldn’t they have thrown soup on Donald Trump’s portrait?”

The protesters, however, say they have no other option when it comes to highlighting the climate crisis. Mel Carrington explained: “We tried sitting in the roads, we tried blocking oil terminals, and we got virtually zero press coverage — yet the thing that gets the most press is chucking some tomato soup on a piece of glass covering a masterpiece.”

Chris Agee
Chris Agee October 28th, 2022
Share this story: