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. Oops! Museum Bans Visitor After Prize Collection Smash

file photo of Qing vases
by Staff Writers
London UK (AFP) Feb 06, 2006
A hapless visitor who accidentally smashed a set of rare 300-year-old Chinese vases at a British museum after tripping up on his shoelaces said Monday he has been banned from returning.

Nick Flynn, a regular visitor of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, southeast England, told BBC radio he has received a letter from directors asking him not to come back -- at least for a while.

The 42-year-old, who tripped as he came down a flight of stairs, causing the 100,000-pound (146,000-euro, 175,000-dollar) mishap, said: "It was just a regrettable accident.

"I snagged my shoelace, missed the step and crash, bang, wallop there were a million pieces of high-quality Qing ceramics lying around underneath me.

"I suppose that, seeing they were the prize possession of the museum, they were just lying on a window sill... I thought they might take a bit better care of them."

The three Qing vases, dating from the late 17th or early 18th century, had been at the museum for at least 40 years and were among its best-known artefacts.

After receiving the banning letter from museum director Duncan Robinson, Flynn said: "I think they are a bit embarrassed at the moment, with them being worth such a considerable amount, and there is no way my pocket will stretch to reimburse them for the damage I've done."

Flynn, who is single and receives disability benefit following a bike accident, explained he was still sore after the tumble, which happened last month and that regular staff had not harboured a grudge.

"I think this is just the directors or trustees because they seem to have got egg on their faces," he suggested.

Police have ruled out malicious damage.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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