Two experts raise serious questions about the Dallas Museum of Art break-in


Right up until his retirement in 2016, John Barelli served as safety main at the renowned Metropolitan Museum of Artwork in New York. He labored there for 38 a long time. He’s also the creator of Stealing the Show: A History of Art and Criminal offense in 6 Thefts.

Barelli is amid the world’s main authorities on museum protection, so at the moment, he and his friends are fixated on a single position:


“I know all about it,” he explained of the June 1 split-in at the Dallas Museum of Artwork. “But at the Satisfied, we never experienced a case rather like this.”

Sharing his problem is 1 of the world’s main preservationists of rare great artwork.

Dallas’ very own Robert Edsel, founder and chairman of The Monuments Males and Women of all ages Basis, authored the bestselling book The Monuments Men, which grew to become a Hollywood movie starring George Clooney, Cate Blanchett and Matt Damon. Edsel once owned an oil and gasoline organization.

“The president of my company each individual one working day began by inquiring, ‘What’s the worst matter that can materialize to us now?’ And a couple of my executives made use of to say, ‘God, this guy’s received this sort of a unfavorable mindset.’ And his response was, ‘We really don’t have to have to have a assembly to examine all the superior stuff that can happen to us. But if something actually catastrophic happens, we’re out of small business.’

“Did anybody at any time inquire that concern on the board?” Edsel mentioned of the DMA. “Did the director of the museum question that dilemma?”

With 25,000 will work of art in its global collection, the DMA is the only municipal art museum in the Dallas-Fort Worth location on city residence. All other individuals are independent charitable corporations.

John Barelli worked in security for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for...
John Barelli worked in security for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York Town for virtually 40 yrs, retiring in 2016 as main of protection. He spoke out a short while ago about the split-in at the Dallas Museum of Artwork.(Eileen Travell)

Barelli claimed he was “puzzled” that the suspect in the DMA vandalism was capable to inflict comprehensive harm for numerous minutes just before getting stopped — damage that police originally assessed as currently being in excessive of $5 million, however the DMA later on referred to as it “a fraction” of that figure.

Police claimed Brian Hernandez, 21, approached the museum’s front entrance on North Harwood Street at about 9:40 p.m. on June 1 just before shattering it with a metal chair and going for walks within about 6 minutes afterwards. He was not arrested right until law enforcement arrived at 10:10 p.m.

By the time they got there, he experienced roamed freely through 3 flooring of the building which include its historical Mediterranean gallery, ornamental arts and style gallery and concourse — where two security guards located him, according to police.

Together the way, he shattered screen circumstances and harmed other museum property these types of as telephones, signage and computer equipment, police explained. He backtracked at the very least once, they claimed, leaving the historic Mediterranean gallery to retrieve from the museum’s entrance a metallic stool, which he then wielded.

The greatest casualties were being the artwork: A few historic Greek vessels from the 5th and 6th hundreds of years B.C. broke into pieces when Hernandez, in accordance to law enforcement, struck the show cases containing them. A up to date Indigenous American artwork went the exact way when Hernandez threw it to the floor, law enforcement said.

These are the 4 artifacts smashed at the DMA by an intruder

Hernandez has been billed with prison mischief of $300,000 or additional, a very first-degree felony. He appeared to seal his personal destiny when, amid the rampage, he picked up a phone and known as 911, law enforcement reported. When a dispatcher identified as back, museum security picked up and “stated that they did not contact 911 and that there ought to not be everyone inside of the museum.”

Hernandez’s bail was established at $100,000. On Friday, he remained in Dallas County jail. His community defender declined to remark on the prices.

In a assertion the day right after the incident, the museum said he was unarmed.

Barelli claimed he could not fully grasp how Hernandez “was capable to do all that harm without the need of somebody responding.”

But in Edsel’s intellect, the issues are even far more intense. He sees it as practically nothing much less than an institutional failure that, if not corrected, poses most likely dire outcomes.

For just about 30 minutes, he said, “The belongings of the city were being in grave jeopardy.”

Edsel grew up in Dallas, graduating from St. Mark’s University of Texas and Southern Methodist University. In 2014, he obtained the greatest honor presented by the Basis for the National Archives, whose recipients involve filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Ken Burns, creator David McCullough and newsman Tom Brokaw.

Edsel has authored 4 guides, every of which tells the story of the gentlemen and girls who shielded some of the world’s most beneficial art from theft by the Nazis and the inherent destruction of war.

For nearly 30 minutes, “The assets of the city were in grave jeopardy,” said Robert Edsel,...
For virtually 30 minutes, “The belongings of the city ended up in grave jeopardy,” stated Robert Edsel, founder of the Monuments Guys and Girls Foundation.(Andy Jacobsohn / Workers Photographer)

When it comes to the DMA, “I would be focused on the failure — of management,” Edsel reported. “The director of the museum’s principal duty is to defend the property of the museum. The belongings are the contents and the status. Equally have been weakened.”

Destroyed parts “can be glued back again jointly. But they’ll under no circumstances be what they have been. And now, the DMA’s standing is damaged. What institution is likely to really feel relaxed loaning anything to the DMA following this?”

Even then, he says, it could have been so a lot even worse.

A Dallas police crime scene analyst photographs Brian Hernandez outside the Dallas Museum of...
A Dallas law enforcement criminal offense scene analyst pictures Brian Hernandez outside the house the Dallas Museum of Art right after he was apprehended subsequent a theft contact on June 1, 2022. (Avi Adelman)

“Let’s communicate about what didn’t materialize. Suppose he walks in the door, goes straight more than to Margaret McDermott’s paintings, the multimillion-greenback is effective by Manet, Van Gogh, etc., and pulls out a can of spray paint. Or opens a bucket of acid. No restorer is restoring these is effective of artwork. They are long gone.”

The Dallas Morning News attained out to the DMA on Thursday for a reaction and obtained one from director Agustín Arteaga:

“No museum desires to see this type of factor transpire, but the truth is that no museum can at any time fully reduce such an incident. Even so, we are taking this very severely and are thankful that this incident was moderately contained and resolved immediately with no hurt to staff or people.”

For Barelli, it’s all about the mystery of a night of broken glass.

In the course of his time at the Achieved, objects ended up hurled at the venue’s glass doorways, by means of which gnarly suspects hoped to invade.

“But in New York, we experienced what we called glass-break sensors. So, if you broke the glass, an alarm would go to the command center, and the suspect would appear on camera — quickly.

“I really do not know how subtle the program is in Dallas, or how straightforward it was for him to get in there, devoid of anyone figuring out proper away and then responding.

“It looked to me like there was a lag of some time, which gave him the opportunity to get in there and do severe damage.”

Barelli admitted getting stunned by the timeline of the suspect’s movements. That, much too, still left him with questions.

“I was at the Achieved for just about 40 a long time. We had a nighttime article — a guard — at all the entrances on a 24/7 foundation,” Barelli said.

In other words and phrases, where was the guard in Dallas?

In addition to acquiring numerous aspects of armed stability personnel, “I had a manager in charge of the evening division who was there 90% of the time. We also had a big command center,” Barelli reported.

Broken glass litters the ground on June 2 after the break-in at the Dallas Museum of Art.
Damaged glass litters the floor on June 2 following the split-in at the Dallas Museum of Artwork.(Elias Valverde II / Team Photographer)

So, all over again, he wonders about Dallas: “If they’d had an alarm on the glass exterior, just before he received in, someone should have responded to that — promptly. If I was in charge, my dilemma would be: How is it that my people failed to react sooner? The reaction really should have been when they had the to start with get hold of.”

That the incident took location on the before aspect, only about an hour following sundown, tends to make Barelli even a lot more suspicious.

“In the dead of evening, say, at 2 a.m., you’re generally worried about someone being asleep at the swap,” he said. “But 9:40 p.m.? Hey, they should have been proper on that. I would problem their process. Something’s not right.”

In Barelli’s see, DMA leadership has numerous concerns to ponder, a single currently being: “We have a weakness listed here. They ought to look at it, reevaluate it and weigh the weak point. How was someone able to break in and wander all-around?”

Personnel author Dan Singer contributed to this report.

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