Stephanie Theodore, a visiting gallery owner from Brooklyn, New York witnessed the children clambering over the installation by American artist Donald Judd and snapped a photo of the scene, posting it on Twitter with the caption, "Holy c**p. Horrible kids, horrible parents," to the horror of the Internet. Outrage, in 140 characters or less, followed:
Yahoo Shine could not reach Theodore for comment; however, she told the London Evening Standard, "I was shocked. I said to the parents I didn't think their kids should be playing on a $10 million artwork. The woman turned around and told me I didn't know anything about kids and she was sorry if I ever had any."
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Theodore alerted Tate guards but the family had already moved on to the next room full of art. "I don't know who they are, but I just know you don't put your kid on a sculpture," she told the Standard. "It wasn't just the kids, the parents were encouraging them … It isn't about monetary value, it is a museum, not a playground."
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A representative from Tate Modern emailed the following statement to Yahoo Shine: "Tate welcomes families to all of its galleries. On Sunday 26 January 2014 at 17:30 a child lay on the bottom part of the Donald Judd sculpture Untitled 1980. The situation was dealt with immediately. There is always risk of damage when visitors touch works of art, but the sculpture has been checked by Tate's conservation team and no damage has been caused on this occasion."
Some museums take a more proactive stance when it comes to protecting their treasures. Back in 2012, two 13-year-old girls were turned away from the Salford Museum and Art Gallery in England for being under the age of 16 and "for their own safety," much to the shock of one of the girls' mothers, and in February, a group of Wesleyan University students were kicked out of the Connecticut Science Center for allowing their senior cocktail party (a scheduled event at the center) to go out of control (students were reportedly doing drugs on the premises and climbing a dinosaur exhibit).
Lesson of the day: If your kids want to climb on things, take them to a playground. They'll thank you for it, and so will the art world.