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Museum Officials Dealing with Overnight Break-In: April Fools Prank?

Several artworks in Crystal Bridges twentieth century have been relocated to the Museum’s Late Nineteenth-Century Gallery

Several artworks in Crystal Bridges twentieth century have been relocated to the Museum’s Late Nineteenth-Century Gallery

Early this morning, curators on routine gallery walk-throughs discovered that Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art had experienced a strange break-in overnight. Despite state-of-the-art security systems, professional protection services staff, and galleries monitored by cameras and motion sensors, a person or persons unknown managed to infiltrate the building and tamper with the artworks on display.  After taking a thorough inventory, curators were relieved to discover that nothing had been damaged or stolen: the artworks had simply been rearranged on the walls of the galleries.

Several artworks in Crystal Bridges twentieth century have been relocated to the Museum’s Late Nineteenth-Century Gallery

Several artworks in Crystal Bridges twentieth century have been relocated to the Museum’s Late Nineteenth-Century Gallery

“It’s baffling,” said Geoff Goodrich, Head of Security. “My team was on guard all night. Our equipment has been operating perfectly. And yet we received no indication that anything was amiss. Even the guards doing walk-throughs of the galleries had no hint whatsoever of any criminal activity. And yet here we are: this morning nearly every artwork in the place has been moved.”

The perpetrators managed to take down, move, and reinstall more than 200 priceless works of art in just a few hours, and leave no trace of their activity other than the rearrangement of the artwork itself. Many works were moved from one end of the Museum to the other, and mixed up in puzzling combinations.

Curator Chad Alligood has his suspicions about the perpetrator, taking clues from the arrangement of some of the artworks: “It’s really not half bad,” he said. “It’s not traditional, but there is a sort of logic to it. We’ve got Joseph Decker’s Boy Smoking next to Tom Wesselman’s Smoker Number 9, which sort of makes sense.”   he commented. “Clearly this is someone with an art history background. Could have been an inside job. My guess is that some folks here on staff just pulled off the April Fools prank of the century.”

Decker's "Boy Smoking" was hung high on the wall near Wesselman's "Smoker Number 9," and other works from the Nineteenth-Century Galleries were also moved into the 1940s to Now Gallery. Experts are working to decipher the possible meaning behind the moves.

Decker’s “Boy Smoking” was hung high on the wall near Wesselman’s “Smoker Number 9,” and other works from the Nineteenth-Century Galleries were also moved into the 1940s to Now Gallery. Experts are working to decipher the possible meaning behind the moves.

Authorities have been looking closely at the placement of the works, hoping for clues. It is suspected that the way in which some of the artworks were arranged may have meaning, but as of yet, no coded message has been deciphered. Interpol has declined to become involved, as no works have been actually stolen, but the FBI is considering bringing author Dan Brown in as a consultant.

“Brown may be a writer of fiction,” said FBI Investigator Windom Earle, “but he clearly has some insight into this sort of thing that may be useful.”

All the artwork placements are being photographed to assist in solving the crime, and Museum preparators will be busily reinstalling the works in their original places. This will take several weeks, which further underscores the question of how the perpetrators could possibly have moved them all in a single night.

“I don’t know how they did it,” commented Chief Preparator Chuck Flook, “but when we find whoever it is, I’m sure going to ask. This could revolutionize the field of art installation.”

Linda DeBerry
Senior Copy Editor / Publications Manager

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