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Visitor Attacks Art at the Denver Art Museum

A Denver Art Museum visitor reportedly attempted to destroy pieces of art around 2 p.m. Sunday, December 9. The incident took place on level four of the museum's Hamilton Building, where the Stampede exhibit holds more than 300 objects that "explore the presence of animals in art throughout centuries and across cultures," according to denverartmuseum.org.

"Artworks were compromised," museum spokesperson Shadia Lemus told Westword. "The individual was arrested at the museum and taken into police custody."

Whether the destruction of the works was some sort of artistic statement or just "a teenager on drugs," as one museum visitor suggested, has not been determined.

Monday morning Denver Police Department identified the suspect as eighteen-year-old Jake Siebenlist.

"Siebenlist was observed by several witnesses and security causing extensive damage to various art sculptures, artifacts and paintings on the fourth floor, proceeded to walk to a glass bonet and pushed the glass structure causing it to fall over and shatter," according to a police report. "Security at the scene tried to gain control of Siebenlist who pushed the museum patrons out of his path, making his way towards other art sculptures and paintings."

"Siebenlist then began to throw numerous sculptures across the room causing them to break and began shattering other art sculptures into the ground," the police report continues. "Sciebenlist also tried to damage two paintings that were protected by plastic glass, but was unable to cause any damage to the two paintings. Security at the scene was able to take control of Siebenlist who tried to punch security while he was being restrained."

In total, ten pieces were damaged: "Wolf Headdress Mask," "Raven Rattle Tlingit," "Jaina Style Figurine," Moche Portrait Bottle," "Chinese Vase with Phoenixes," "Moche Rattle Bowl," "Mayan Fish-Shaped Vessel," "Mayan Vessel with God on Bird," Chinese Initiator Sculpture" and "Beware of Cranes Sculpture." The amount of damages have not been announced.

This act of vandalism comes just a year shy of the day a graffiti artist tagged the museum's Gio Ponti building, which is closed and undergoing a major renovation.

The museum's fourth floor was shut down late Sunday afternoon as police and museum staff assessed the situation.

The fourth floor will reopen on Monday, December 10, but the gallery that was attacked will remain shuttered.

Update December 10, 2018: This story has been updated with information from a Denver Police Department report.

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