Originally uploaded by Art or Idiocy?.
The "gray strings" the witness refers to are probably an antiquated security device that basically anchored the painting to the wall. While artworks today are secured to the wall or the floor, that is not usually the first and last line of defense. We aren't dealing with pens at a bank. Eyewitnesses said that no alarms could be heard and the guards did not try to stop the burglars. Jorunn Christophersen, the head of public affairs at the Munch Museum believes the robbers knew exactly where the pieces were. She also stated that alarms did in fact go off. So maybe they were silent ones. But it still doesn't explain the guards not doing anything. But remember, these are museum guards, not policemen or body guards. The most they expect to deal with is an unruly child, a touchy-feely old lady or a drunkard at a reception. Not armed bandits.
The Norwegian government expressed outrage, among other negative feelings, at the thought that the works were not more carefully secured.
Chistophersen pointed out that the paintings were held down with screws.
I sure hope a lot was lost in the translation.
Norway seems to have a lot of trouble with securing their art. The thieves in the 1994 caper had little difficulty with circumventing security at the National Gallery. The windows did not have alarms, even. I did not find out if security there has since beefed up in the last ten years. All I can say is I hope that there is better security protecting those crappy Frederick Remmington horse paintings in our National Gallery.