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Woman writes on artwork in Nuremberg museum

July 14, 2016

A 91-year-old woman has found herself in trouble with a German museum after writing on an exhibit. Part of the avant-garde artwork was meant to look like an empty crossword puzzle.

Deutschland Neue Museum am Klarissenplatz in Nürnberg
Image: picture alliance/dpa/D. Karmann

The Neues Museum in Nuremberg has filed a criminal complaint after the elderly woman wrote on the artwork with a ballpoint pen.

The 1965 piece by Arthur Koepcke, titled "Reading-work-piece," includes the phrase "Insert Words" and features a partially filled-in crossword puzzle. After it became known that she had added letters to the puzzle, the woman explained to the museum that she was simply following directions.

Museum spokesperson Eva Martin confirmed the story to the press on Thursday. "The artist had already filled in some of the boxes," Martin said, before adding that the elderly woman had taken the opportunity to fill in some of those he had left blank.

The spokesperson went on to say that it should be clear to all museum patrons that under no circumstances could people write on the artwork. "We can't put corresponding labels on every piece of artwork," Martin said.

No malicious intent

Among the words the woman wrote in the puzzle was the English word "wall," according to local news outlet "Nürnberger Nachrichten."

Museum chief Eva-Christina Kraus said she had filed a criminal complaint for insurance reasons, since there was no malicious intent behind the woman's actions. "It's clear to us that the older lady didn't mean any harm," Kraus said.

The piece has an insurance value of 80,000 euros ($89,000).

Police said the woman was being investigated for damages to property. The museum, meanwhile, said the piece could likely be restored.

Koepcke (1928-1977) was part of the Fluxus art movement, which often melded together different media and disciplines, such as poetry, visual art and design.

blc/bw (dpa, AP, AFP)

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