Oops! V&A workman smashes £2m sculpture

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The Independent Online

Frasier Crane has one in his TV apartment and the Clintons couldn't bear to part with theirs when they left the White House. Dale Chihuly's blown glass sculptures, which sell for up to £2m, are the last word in modern art.

Now an electrician at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is about to find out how valuable they are, after accidentally smashing one.

Outside contractors were setting up a temporary display on Thursday evening, moving heavy equipment into the gallery that houses the Chihuly exhibition. The sculpture, from the "Macchia series" which uses vibrant dashes of colour on the glass, was secured to a plinth near the entrance to the gallery.

An electrician carrying a piece of temporary staging accidentally knocked against the plinth and museum staff watched as the sculpture split in two and one half smashed to the ground.

The curator and the managing director of the contracting company were summoned to the scene and, according to museum sources, staff were not allowed to clear up the glass until photographs had been taken.

A V&A spokesman said: "It was just an unfortunate accident. The sculpture was on a high stand, which would normally be very secure, but these things happen." The V&A said the artist had been informed and the matter was now in the hands of the museum's insurers.

Janet Makela of the Chihuly studio in Seattle said there was no question of the exhibition not finishing its full run. She added: "The sculptures are glass and glass breaks, that's why insurance is carried. The museum is of course handling the insurance claim in tandem with the contractors."