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June 8-9 2017 Maastricht, The Netherlands

Vandalism & Art

Date and place

June 8-9 2017 : Auditorium, Bonnefanten Museum, Avenue Ceramique 250, Maastricht, The Netherlands

Organized by: Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL), Maastricht, The Netherlands; Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, The Netherlands; CeROArt, Liège, Belgium; MACCH, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


‘Vandalisme’, a term coined in 1794 by Henri Gregoire, now relates in the public consciousness to the intentional damage to public heritage. It is an ever present risk for art displayed in public venues. Acts of vandalism are often instigated by political causes, religious beliefs, psychological motivation or public unawareness. Cultural heritage managers have to deal immediately, under scrutiny, with the visually intrusive effects whenever these acts take place.

No matter the cause, the act itself results in damage to the work of art. The means of the act may be varied but the effects can be both structurally and aesthetically devastating. The means may be intentional: knife attack, acid attack, spray paint application, hammer attack, throwing paint and graffiti against sculptures and on monuments. But also carried out without consideration: chewing gum stuck on the eyes (of sculpture), scratched personal names into stone building, accidental pen marks. The public’s disregard for public heritage increases as a result of these manifestations of damage, which in turn can instigate further damage.

Restoration of vandalised works of art can be costly and time consuming. Treatment asks for the development of unconventional or ground breaking techniques and materials. The immediate response of social media to acts of vandalism is a new phenomenon that requires prompt managing; thus, pushing conservation into new fields of communication.

The decision-making on what to do may differ if the vandalism has taken place in public space or inside a museum: should the damage be left visible as a historical record or should the object be returned to its original appearance? The intent of the offence may be recognised as valuable demonstration of public outcry, or even an artwork in itself, and therefore saved. How do the various stakeholders deal with vandalism? How to react in the first instance? Who is the appropriate stakeholder to make decisions on what to do? What are the legal and economic consequences of these acts?

This two day conference will allow all stakeholders to share their experiences, exchange ideas and define new polices when dealing with acts of vandalism. Decisions made when treating vandalised art works will be debated through case studies and new protocols for dealing with public awareness and management of social media will be addressed. Legal and economic issues and implications will be debated.

Call for Contributions

If you wish to present at the conference, please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words in English to the selection committee by 15 February 2017 ( Submissions should include the author’s full name, and institutions. Abstracts will be selected on merit by 1 March 2017. Extended abstracts will be assembled prior to the conference and will be distributed to delegates.

The conference will be organised in collaboration with: SRAL, Bonnefanten Museum, CeROArt, & MACCH.

Selection committee: Dr. Lydia Beerkens (SRAL, Maastricht); Kate Seymour, MA (SRAL, Maastricht); Professor Dr. Muriel Verbeek (CeROArt, Liège); Ingrid Kentgens (Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht); Professor Dr. Hildegard Schneider (MACCH, Maastricht).

Venue, Registration & Costs

The Conference will the held at the Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht. Registration forms will be available at (events) from 1 March 2017. Conference fee will be € 195.00. The number of places is limited, so registration will be made in order of receipt. The registration is only valid after reception of the registration fee.

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