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Smashed centuries-old vase put back together

A centuries-old Chinese vase smashed to pieces when a museum visitor tripped on his shoelace is back on display — as part of an exhibition on art restoration.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A centuries-old Chinese vase smashed to pieces when a museum visitor tripped on his shoelace is back on display — as part of an exhibition on art restoration.

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge said Monday that the Qing Dynasty vase had been reassembled from the 113 pieces created when Nick Flynn tumbled down a staircase in January.

"Putting the vase back together may have looked impossible to most people but actually it wasn't a difficult job — fairly straightforward," said restorer Penny Bendall.

"The museum collected the pieces. None had warped, so they fitted back together."

Bendall said she hoped to restore two similar vases broken in the same incident by Christmas.

The vases, dating from the late 17th or early 18th century, were donated to the museum in 1948 and were among its best-known artifacts. They had been sitting proudly on a window sill beside the staircase for 40 years.

"I snagged my shoelace, missed the step and crash, bang, wallop — there were a million pieces of high quality Qing ceramics lying around underneath me," Flynn, 42 said after the incident.

The restored vase forms part of the "Mission Impossible?" exhibition, running at the museum until Sept. 24.