A Greek drinking vessel dating from the sixth century BCE, housed at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), depicts a siren, a hybrid creature with a human head and an avian body. The siren is an ambiguous figure in Greek iconography. It was often thought to ward off evil powers, but it also represents the destructive power of female seduction and the demise of man.
On the evening of Wednesday, June 1, the siren was not able to keep mayhem at bay. Instead, the kylix it graced was the unfortunate target of the wrath of 21-year-old Brian Hernandez, who reportedly broke into the museum and started destroying property. Hernandez is also accused of smashing a fifth-century BCE Greek cylindrical box, a sixth-century BCE Greek amphora vase, and a ceramic bottle in the shape of an alligator gar fish crafted by a living Native American artist.
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A Dallas Police Department spokesperson told Hyperallergic that Hernandez left the scene but was later located and taken into custody. He has been charged with criminal mischief.
DMA Director Agustín Arteaga told the New York Times that the four pieces, estimated at over $1 million, had been “seriously damaged.”
Hernandez broke into the museum around 10pm on Wednesday by breaking down the glass door with a steel chair. Upon entering, he proceeded from one gallery to the next, shattering glass cases and damaging the objects housed inside them. At one point, he wielded a hand sanitizer stand to break the case harboring “Batah Kuhuh Alligator Gar Fish Effigy Bottle,” taking the ceramic sculpture into his hands, throwing it to the ground, and splintering it into pieces.
“While we are devastated by this incident, we are grateful that no one was harmed,” DMA museum representatives said in a statement. They added that from what they could see, it was an “isolated” incident and that there was no intention of theft or deliberate damage.