Oct 27, 2022 - World

Climate activist arrested after gluing head to "Girl with a Pearl Earring"

People viewing Johannes Vermeer's painting "Girl with a Pearl Earring" at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague on Oct. 27.

People viewing Johannes Vermeer's painting "Girl with a Pearl Earring" at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague on Oct. 27. Photo: Lex Van Lieshout/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

A climate activist was arrested after gluing his head to Johannes Vermeer's iconic "Girl with a Pearl Earring" painting at a museum in the Netherlands on Thursday in protest of oil production, the museum said.

Why it matters: Several demonstrators in Europe have recently glued themselves to famous works of art and streets as part of an attempt to raise awareness the effects of oil production on the environment.

  • Videos posted on social media showed two people wearing shirts reading "Just Stop Oil," one with a hand glued to the wall next to the "Girl with a Pearl Earring" and another gluing his head to the painting.
  • The demonstrator with the hand glued to the wall also poured a can of red liquid onto the other person's head while it was stuck to the painting.
  • "How do you feel when you see something beautiful and priceless being apparently destroyed before your eyes? Do you feel outraged?" the demonstrator with the hand glued to the wall told people at museum observing the painting.

What they're saying: The glazed painting was not damaged, and three people were arrested over the incident, the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague said.

  • "Art is defenseless, and the Mauritshuis strongly rejects trying to damage it for whatever purpose," it added.
  • It said the "Girl with a Pearl Earring" would return for viewing "as soon as possible."

Yes, but: The climate activism community has become deeply divided on the tactic, with some warning that targeting works of art may be counterproductive to raising awareness about climate change and the effects of fossil fuel extraction and consumption, Axios' Ayurella Horn-Muller reports.

The big picture: Two demonstrators from Just Stop Oil, an environmental activist group, were arrested earlier this month after throwing tomato soup on Vincent van Gogh's famous "Sunflowers" painting at the National Gallery in London and gluing their hands to a wall near the painting.

  • Climate protesters were also arrested while attempting to glue their hands to Sandro Botticelli's "Primavera" at a gallery in Italy in July, according to the BBC.

Go deeper: Climate activists divided on souping art

Go deeper