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1845-The Portland Vase is broken by drunken museum visitor

February 7, 2023

February 7th, 1845, marks a day that will forever be remembered as a tragic moment in history. On this day, The Portland Vase, a priceless and irreplaceable Roman glass vase, was broken by a drunken visitor in an Oxford museum.

Background of the Vase

The Portland Vase is an ancient Roman cameo glass vase dating back to the 1st century AD and has been housed in various museums since its discovery in 1778. It is thought to have been created during the reign of Augustus Caesar and is considered one of the most valuable pieces of ancient glasswork in existence due to its unique and complex design features.

An Unthinkable Moment

The fateful moment occurred on February 7th, 1845, when William Hamilton Mallet visited the Ashmolean Museum, where The Portland Vase was being held at the time. According to reports, Mallet had too much to drink before entering the museum, which likely fueled his reckless actions once inside – for he proceeded to throw his walking stick at The Portland Vase, causing it to shatter into numerous pieces!


The incident caused a great uproar within the museum, with some even calling for Mallet’s arrest! Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and he was released without charge but still fined for damages done – though no amount could ever truly make up for the loss suffered here.

How Was It Restored?

Despite its shattered state, restorers were able to piece together 95% of broken fragments using adhesive glue – though its delicate nature means it must remain encased in protective glass forevermore. Fortunately, its restoration was just enough to save it from total ruin, allowing us all to share in admiration of this beautiful masterpiece!

A Reminder To Respect Culture

The breaking of The Portland Vase serves as a reminder that our history is fragile and must be respected accordingly – especially when visiting cultural sites like museums or monuments where we represent more than just ourselves but also generations past that made our society possible today! As such, we should always strive towards being better stewards of these important places for future generations as well.


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