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Cleaning Lady Scrubs Off Million Dollar Puddle Ruins Museum Sculpture Artwork

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Expensive bathroom fixtures with a hand-rubbed finish are hard to find. They look beautiful, until a diligent cleaning lady accidentally rubs off the finish in a cleaning frenzy. A piece of artwork currently installed in a German museum experiences a similar problem after a cleaning lady scrubs off its faux puddle. Imported fixtures can be hard to find and replace. But one affected sculpture is impossible to replace--since the original German artist is dead.

A modern-art installation in Germany is a goner after an extremely good cleaning lady literally scrubbed off part of the art. Valued at over a million dollars (US $1.1 million), a woman tasked with cleaning did her job -- a little too well. A valuable sculpture that one contained a patina below it on the ground, meant to resemble a drying rain puddle, now has no 'puddle'.

Artist Martin Kippenberger's work, "When it Starts Dripping from the Ceiling," is still installed at the Ostwall museum despite its unintended alteration. Apparently the cleaning woman found those drips from the 'ceiling' offensive or unnecessary on the ground level. So she got rid of them this November. And did a damn effective job. It had been a painted puddle shown that appeared from under a rubber trough at the base of towering, wooden slats. After a thorough scrubbing, it's now nothing.

Supposedly those responsible for cleaning the museum were instructed to remain more than half a foot away from the artwork at all times. Actually, the specific instruction was a minimum of eight inches distance that was to be kept at all times. The inches versus a foot, plus, are a bit inexplicable -- but, either way, it probably wouldn't have mattered. At least one resident 'housekeeper' of sorts thought the instruction applied to only the vertical plane. Unfortunately for the museum, and possibly an insurance company or two, the Kippenberger sculpture was on loan as part of a private collection. Unfortunately for Kippenberger, he died in 1997.


Ostwall Museum
Ostwall 7
Dortmund 44135
51° 30' 46.908" N, 7° 28' 20.136" E
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