Can the museum leave the protestor glued there and leave for the night?

Edit: it appears that 4 days after I posted this questions, a Porsche showroom locked the protestors inside after turning off the lights for the evening.

  • Good for them. I wish this happened all around the world. They didn't glue them. Technically manhandling the protestor could be viewed as an offence. Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 3:19

2 Answers 2


In the UK, in general, they would have to take reasonable steps to ensure their safety. A museum has to ensure the safety of legitimate visitors, and also trespassers if it can reasonably foresee a hazard that a trespasser would encounter. However gluing oneself to a wall is not a normal hazard of museums, and anything that followed from that act (e.g. injuring yourself when you collapsed due to lack of sleep) would fall under the "author of own misfortune" doctrine.

I'm not aware of any specific precedents on point, but the principles above would seem to suggest that once someone has done such a thing, leaving them there would be a legal course of action, although the museum couldn't let them suffer from hunger or thirst (e.g. by leaving them there over a day when the museum is closed, or by preventing friends from bringing food or drink). Also the museum would have to let them try to free themselves, and allow anyone who might help to do so. They would probably have to permit any necessary damage to the property the protester was glued to as well, on the grounds that the protester is more important than the property (although civil and possibly criminal liability for the damage would follow).

  • what about the museum having to care for its exhibits? I expect they can't leave the person unobserved for the night. Also, I expect that they might have reasonable means to destroy the protestor's clothes or demand him removed by police or medical service.
    – Trish
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 23:41
  • 1
    @Trish That's a different question. Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 20:28
  • Now that gluing oneself to the wall of a museum seems to be a common means of protest, is it reasonably foreseeable?
    – Someone
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 22:23
  • 1
    @Someone, it is? I have never heard of this. What kind of glue? Any links to more info? Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 23:05

A museum can leave a self-glued protestor for the night, likewise a contractor can leave a protester chained to a tree or a stop sign. If they do, there could be harm to the protester, or perhaps there was no harm. If no harm arose, that's the end of the discussion. If the protester was harmed, then the protester (or estate) might sue somebody for negligence. To be concrete, let us suppose that the protester must take a pill every 4 hours or then will fall into a coma. The protestor negligently forgot this fact (alternatively, deliberately disregarded the fact in the hopes of generating publicity). The museum (contractor, etc) determines that the protestor is a harmless nuisance and leaves them unattended (not attended by facilities staff, not attended by a protest-assistant). Then the question is whether the facility is liable for negligence.

The primary legal question is whether the harm was foreseeable. In the typical asteroid-disaster movie, the point is that the disaster is not reasonably foreseeable (the fact that some one scientist predicts the disaster does not make the harm foreseeable). In our hypothetical, this outcome was not foreseeable to the facility (and it is foreseeable to the protestor). OTOH if the museum is being shut and will be entirely unattended for the next 6 months, the outcome is foreseeable.

The other question is who exactly is liable. Here we get into the complexity of negligence and liability under US law, which is determined on a state by state basis. Here is a rough summary. Depending on local doctrine, the jury might have to decide the extent to which the individual was negligent, idem the defendant, and having decided that the plaintiff is 80% at fault and the defendant is 20% at fault, defendant may have to compensate for 20% of the damages. Or, not at all, depending on the law of the state.

  • 2
    The primary question is whether a duty of care exists. Only when you answer that do you need to consider whether the harm was foreseeable (among other things such as whether the duty was breached and whether the breach caused the harm). If I come across a stranger jumping off a cliff, harm is obviously foreseeable. That doesn't matter because I do not (generally) have a duty of care to that person. I downvoted because you didn't address whether or not the museum has a duty of care to the protester.
    – JBentley
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 18:11

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