Ancient Bronze Owl Damaged By Visitor to Minneapolis Institute of Art

2023-05-09
Zun wine vessel in the shape of an owl, 13th-12th century BCE, bronze. COURTESY MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ART
Zun wine vessel in the shape of an owl, 13th-12th century BCE, bronze. COURTESY MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ART

An ancient artifact was damaged when a visitor tripped at the Minneapolis Institute of Art last month, according to the StarTribune.

The Pillsbury Owl, a 12th- or 13th-century BCE bronze owl-shaped wine vessel, was at the entrance of the museum's exhibition "Eternal Offerings: Chinese Ritual Bronzes" when the damage occurred on April 9. Shang-dynasty (ca. 1600–1046 BCE) aristocrats would have used the vessel in rituals offerings to honor their ancestors.

A museum spokesperson confirmed that the vessel has since been removed from the show for further assessment and conservation. The extent of the damage, as well as how long conservation efforts on the artwork will take, however, remains unclear.

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