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Friday, 24 January 2014

Art heist? Child's play

When we were first developing the idea of the Ministry of Curiosity, one of our main goals was combating museum stereotypes. Over the past year I think we’ve done a pretty good job at doing away with the idea that museum people are anti-social or overly serious. But this is a stereotype I can honestly say I never thought about until recently.

Introducing the LEGO City Police Museum Break-in set: complete with 2 burglars, 2 police officers, an opening rooftop window and accessories like a painting, a sword and a blue diamond. I find myself torn about whether this LEGO set is completely offensive or really amazing.

On the positive side, I can see why this game would be fun for kids (and adults). Who hasn’t seen Oceans 12? High-stakes art heists are classic movie fodder. Everyone knows that stealing priceless works of art brings an emotional charge that audiences love. Also museums in these situations also have the sort of amazing security you can find in the LEGO kit: alarm activated security doors, a helicopter on standby and presumably a laser field (there is always a laser field).
I have never personally working for a museum with one of these. 
But on the other hand, theft from museums is a serious problem. Not to sound like too much of a downer, but the loss of major pieces of cultural property is a problem for everyone. That’s why we have the Art Loss Register. And don’t even get me started on jade or rhino horn thefts. I don’t know much about the fine art of museum security, but I do know museum staff have to follow a lot of safety protocols to make sure their collections stay safe. This is why we can’t talk about everything we do on twitter, or take pictures of installations, or even sometimes even of our work in the stores.
With accurate SWAT team accessories
Realistically I think any game that associates museums and fun for kids is probably a good idea. What museums are trying to avoid these days is being a hallowed ground for safeguarding treasures like gold nuggets- they are places for interacting and learning. Probably if your child plays this game and decides they want to become a world-class art thief, you’ve got a bigger problem on your hands.

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