This article was translated by John R. Bopp

In the last few days, we’ve found several different international media sources and blogs telling us that visitors to the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum “were admiring a cleaning cart at the Guggenheim, believing it was a work of art”.  This is the type of information that both for its form and for its depth ought to be placed in quarantine by any media source worth its salt.

Many of us have experienced what it’s like to “face” a museum or gallery art piece and not be able to make heads or tails of it.  But even with that experience the idea that a cleaning cart could be confused with a work of art seems excessive.  Even we find it difficult to imagine anyone on the cleaning staff would be out cleaning during visiting hours, or that they would leave it in the middle of the room.

So, we decided to see if there were any truth to this “story”, and figure out its origin.

Firstly, the photo seemed to be a photoshop, and a bad one at that.  But that could also just be a personal perception, despite the fact that the size, definition, and shadows of the cart and of the other elements and people in the photo didn’t match up.  Our doubts were cleared up when we googled “cleaning cart”.

We’ll leave you with the image they used in their “report” and the image of one of those carts we found with a simple Google search.

An example of the photoshopped Guggenheim cleaning cart photo, and the cleaning cart found on Google.
An example of the photoshopped Guggenheim cleaning cart photo, and the cleaning cart found on Google.

So then we got down to figuring out where this report came from, and we found in on La Voz del Becario, a parody news site with headlines as serious as “TV chef caught buying frozen croquettes” or “Judge orders the Big Brother VIP house to be locked with the contestants inside”.

So far, so good.  When it stops being good is when that parody article, published on a humor site, becomes news that appears on “serious” media outlets, or blogged by people with “criteria” as true.

Some media, such as Diario Uno in Argentina, seems to have realized how ridiculous the report was and has deleted the article, though other media have published the report citing the Argentine paper as the “original source”.  

An interesting example of how the inflation of information and a clear loss of quality of the media can lead to situations as embarrassing as this one.  It doesn’t seem too difficult to fact check a story like this one–it only takes a few minutes.  But it seems that these minutes are worth a lot more than the respect a media source should have for its readers.

This isn’t the first time we’ve come across false news that has become “news” on the sites of “serious media outlets”.  We found another paradigmatic example in 2012: that Athletic fans were traveling to Budapest, not Bucharest, to see the Europa League final.

El Día de Uruguay – 14/2/2016 – Uruguay

Admiraban un carrito de limpieza creyendo que era una obra de arte

Una confusión sucedida el pasado domingo en el Museo Guggenheim de Bilbao ha causado que varios visitantes admiraran un carrito de la limpieza durante cuatro horas como si fuera una obra de arte.

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La prensa Libre –  14/2/2016  – Costa Rica

Confundieron carrito de limpieza con obra de arte… por cuatro horas

Un hecho bastante curioso sucedió este domingo dentro de un museo ubicado en la ciudad española de Bilbao, donde varios amantes del arte confundieron un simple carrito de limpieza con una moderna obra de arte, equivocación que duró 4 horas en despejarse.

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Mercado – 14/2/2016 – Argentina

Carro de limpieza confundido con obra de arte

Ocurrió una confusión el pasado domingo en el Museo Guggenheim de Bilbao cuando un grupo de personas rodeó el carro de la limpieza abandonado accidentalmente en una de las salas por una de las empleadas de mantenimiento. La gente observó el carro durante cuatro horas como si fuera una obra de arte más.

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