Waiter all finger and thumbs as 2,000-year-old Roman sculpture damaged at British Museum

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A waiter preparing for a corporate event at the British Museum broke the thumb of a 2,000-year-old Roman statue with his head, it has emerged.

The Townley Venus, one of the museum's most prized Roman sculptures, was damaged when catering staff were setting up for an event in December last year.

Details were not made public at the time but the incident has since been revealed by The Art Newspaper.

The Townley Venus
(British Museum/PA)

The museum said it took the incident "seriously" and the statue had been "fully restored" by expert conservators.

The waiter was said to have been bending down beneath the 7ft statue but his head hit the sculpture as he stood up, breaking off the thumb.

It was fixed back with an adhesive and the work was done in situ while the museum was closed, a spokeswoman confirmed.

The Townley Venus
(British Museum/PA)

The statue, which dates from the first or second century AD, has previously been damaged and is missing the index finger on its right hand.

A spokeswoman said: "This was an unfortunate incident. The preservation of the collection is of fundamental importance.

"Our expert conservators have been able to fully restore the object and it has remained on public display.

"We have taken the incident seriously and have retrained all individuals responsible for events."

The catering company has not been named by the museum.