Marta Churchwell: Don’t touch museum exhibits

While recently perusing the website of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, I came across a blog that addressed the hardened rule of museums: Don’t touch the exhibit work.

The blog by Crystal Bridges staffer Linda DeBerry discussed the impact of visitors’ handprints on the copper cladding of the museum’s new elevator tower. The handprints are leaving indelible, oxidized prints on the copper, DeBerry wrote.

The prints result from the moisture and oils in visitors’ skin, speeding the process of oxidization of the copper, which builds its patina.

In the blog, Museum Director Rod Bigelow expressed little concern about the handprints. “It reminds

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