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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Museum bars man who damaged vases
Fitzwilliam restoration
Conservator Penny Bendall restoring one of the vases
The man responsible for breaking three historic Qing vases at a Cambridge museum was turned away from a private event to reveal conservation plans.

Staff stopped Nick Flynn at the door of the Fitzwilliam Museum and director Duncan Robinson said it would have been inappropriate for him to be there.

He said it was a press event and no member of the public was admitted.

Mr Flynn stumbled and knocked over the 300-year-old vases. One has undergone preliminary temporary reassembly.

Painstaking work

The three damaged vases were among the best-known artefacts at the Fitzwilliam Museum where they had stood on a recessed windowsill since 1948.

Visitor Nick Flynn is said to have tripped on a loose shoelace and fallen down a staircase bringing the vases crashing down as he tried to steady himself.

Nick Flynn who damaged vases
Nick Flynn who damaged the vases barred from the briefing

The expert responsible for reconstructing one of the vases, Suffolk conservator Penny Bendall, revealed her repair work at a special briefing at the museum on Wednesday.

Two of the vases were smashed into pieces and a third suffered serious damage when they fell to the ground but many shards of the porcelain were mingled together.

Conservation experts are documenting each piece in a bid to put the vases back together as they were. But they said the cracks would still show.

It is painstaking work, a museum spokesman said, but they hope the display will be available for visitors to see by the end of June.

Detailed reconstruction

The three vases are from a collection of five which the museum said could be worth up to 300,000.

The vases, donated in 1948, were among the best-known pieces on display at the museum.

At the time of the breakage a museum spokesman said they were determined to restore all of them and put them back on display.

Mrs Bendall insisted the task would be "very straightforward".

"This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate how ceramic conservation techniques have improved in recent years due to the introduction of modern materials," she said.

"Being very familiar with hard paste porcelain I can foresee no major problems."

Hear how the vases were broken

'Windowsill' vases stun visitor
06 Feb 06 |  Cambridgeshire

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