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From SpongeBob to Maggie Simpson, take a look at some of the biggest restoration fails of all time. Don't miss out on our Royal honorary mention.
3 Mins

Restorations Gone Wrong - Top 5

Lewis Findley
Lewis Findley

Restorations Gone Wrong - 2018

Restorations are one of the biggest challenges a museum can face. Not only because of the potential cost and time away from viewing but the complexities of working with artworks, sculptures and more which are hundreds or thousands of years old. 

For example, Da Vinci is known for his unusual glazing techniques. This can pose a serious challenge because cleaning an artwork will remove the varnish protecting it.

The concerns are usually silenced through remarkable restorations but other times it's provoked calls for prison sentences to be handed out. 

Take a look at some of the most notorious restorations of all time!

1) Ecce Homo - 2012

Translated in English as "Behold the Man", Ecco Homo is a Fresco painting which depicts Jesus with a thorn of crowns. It was painted by Elías García Martínez in 1930.

In 2012, Cecilia Giménez became one of the most notorious painters in the world when her botched attempt at restoring the artwork completely changed it. The attempt was ridiculed and put her in the public eye - and Borja.

Over 130,000 have visited the small town of 5,000 people and even inspired a comic opera. Villain to hero could not be more true for the tale of Cecilia Giménez.

2) Statue of Saint George - 2012

Spain has scored another hit on our list with this quite ravishing restoration of Saint George battling a Dragon which was sculpted in the 1500s.

A Priest gave the responsibility of the restoration to a local arts and craft store who in-turn assigned it to a local teacher whose efforts garnered national attention.

The complexion of the mighty saint was transformed to leave a rather boyish charm, to say the least. This came at the time Ecce Homo was taking the world by storm.

The sculpture is displayed at the Church of St. Michael in Estella, Navarre.

3) Ocakli Ada Castle - 2015

Going from Spain to the Mediterranean, we now arrive in Turkey.

Th Ocakli Ada Castle dates back to the 14th century. It's played varying roles from being a lighthouse to being a watchtower for the Ottoman empire!

The castle needed restoring and the results inspired numerous mockeries on social media. The majority of the comments centred on its amazing resemblance to the likeable cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants.

The complaints reached the Turkish Parliament but the citizens defended its restoration.

What's your take?

4) Statue of Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus - 2016

A church in Canada became the subject of attention when vandals stole Baby Jesus's head from a sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding him.

A local artist called Heather Wise had taken on the task of restoring the sculpture. After spending several hours carving a replacement with terracotta clay, the results were damning.

Widely discredited, the new head of Baby Jesus was related to Maggie Simpson of the acclaimed TV show, The Simpsons.

After a year, the stolen head was returned and balance was restored!

5) Fresco Painting Restoration of the Qing Dynasty - 2011

In China, a planned restoration turned into a nightmare when an unqualified company attempted to restore it. Notice the word 'attempted'.

Having been exposed to light, heat and handling, the painting started to fade over time. When restoration was decided, it was outsourced to save money. 

The result of this 'modernisation' was widely condemned and inspired cries for restorers to go to prison!

It's safe to say this restoration is one to forget. 

Honourable Mention - Tutankhamun - 2014

What's a list without an honourable mention?

Tutankhamun, one of the most famous rulers of Egypt, ruled over the land over 3,300 years ago. It was only found in 1922. 

The remarkable mask needed a minor correction after its beard was knocked off. The decision was to use an epoxy glue which is used on metal and stone. 

During the botched restoration, the employees tried to cover their mistakes by hacking off any visible glue.

It was reported that 8 employees of the museum of Cairo were taken into custody to explain the situation - they each gave varying accounts.

The beard was restored professionally and put back on display. Isn't that a happy ending? 

Final Words

When it comes to restorations, preparation and research are key. Saving money or trying to do a quick fix will only make you end up on our next list and also achieve immortality across Social Media.

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