Left: "The Bay," courtesy of Detroit Free Press
(Detroit, MI) A 12-year old boy visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts with his school stuck a wad of chewing gum on the painting on Friday, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The 1963 painting, Helen Frankenthaler's abstract work "The Bay," is one of the most important modern works in the DIA's collection.
The chewed gum left a residue stain about the size of a quarter in the lower left-hand corner of the painting, which is worth an estimated $1.5 million.
The boy, a student at charter school Holly Academy, has been suspended, according to school director Julie Kildee.
"Even though we give very strict guidelines on proper behavior and we hold students to high standards, he is only 12," she said. "I don't think he understood the ramifications of what he did before it happened, but he certainly understands the severity of it now."
My personal memories of visits to cultural sites like the DIA are a bit fuzzy, but I do recall that the chaperones were very attuned to watching out for students who were not on their best behavior.
With my own children I know that I go into drill sergeant mode at museums and the symphony; the first sign of someone acting up and I get proactive with discipline. My suspicion - not to minimize the vandalism - is that the chaperones were either too few in number, or not quick enough to recognize signs of prepubescent hijinks.
Luckily, the quarter-sized stain left from the gum residue appears to be something that the museum's restoration experts can handle, and the prognosis for the painting is positive.
"Our expectation is that the painting is going to be fine," said Becky Hart, assistant curator of contemporary art.