The mysterious case of the missing art

Several months ago, I was contacted by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (who sells my artwork) to see if I would mind helping them with something they wanted to do to make their location more beautiful. “Absolutely,” I said.

LINDA COTE-Summer-Forest

This piece is similar to the artwork provided to the Whyte Museum for display.

They were wanting to beautify the washrooms by hanging artwork that they liked. I was delighted to be of service.

I provided several of my hand-printed art cards to them, and they framed and hung them in the washroom, along with another artist’s works, and several of their stunning archival photographs featuring historical scenes of Banff.

A few days ago, I was contacted again by an apologetic staff person at the Whyte. It seems that someone in the washroom liked my art…a little too much. The staff noticed an empty frame in the washroom. Apparently someone had stolen one of my prints! Could I let them know which one was, um, stolen, and could they buy another from me to replace it?

Although it’s pretty awful to have your artwork stolen, I really had to laugh. Someone liked the artwork well enough to go into the stall, lock the door, take the framed piece down from the wall, remove the artwork, reassemble the frame and rehang it. Really?

As an artist, this seems like a milestone. My first piece lifted from a museum! OK, so it wasn’t as valuable as the Mona Lisa — it was a $5 card that is typically carried in their gift shop. Nor was it as notorious as a work of art by Picasso or Matisse — both of whom have had works of art stolen from museums. Still, someone felt strongly enough about my piece of art to take it from its frame! Strangely, I am quite flattered.

My husband and I watch a show on History Television called “Museum Secrets”. It’s an interesting look behind the scenes at a number of extraordinary museums around the world. We’ve seen episodes on the Louvre, the Vatican Museums, London’s Natural History Museum, Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The show selects certain artifacts — either in their public collection or out of sight in the museum’s secret store rooms — and researches the familiar legends and history surrounding the pieces, digging into events and facts that are not commonly known. It combines the best of my two passions: art and history.

The update on my own museum secret? The piece that was spirited away has been replaced, re-hung, and the washroom is beautiful once again. As they say on the “Museum Secrets” TV show: “Inside every museum…behind every treasure…are secrets hidden in plain sight.”

LINDA COTE-Mount Rundle

“Mount Rundle, Banff”  was my piece secreted away from the Whyte Museum.

Linda Cote-Museum art restored

The Framed art — restored!

12 responses to “The mysterious case of the missing art

    • Hi Alice: maybe the person didn’t like the frame? 🙂 I chose to think about it like Gilbert K. Chesterton who wrote: “Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.”

  1. Wow! Linda, this makes you sort of famous, don’t you think? Would it be wrong to include the theft in your resume? I’d certainlly be looking for a way to include it. Heck, I might even work it into my resume, listing you as a close personal friend. Do you mind?

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