Climate Activists Go for the Mona Lisa Again — This Time, With Pumpkin Soup


Jan. 29 2024, Published 1:03 p.m. ET

Every year, over 10 million people visit Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa painting, which is held at the Louvre Museum in Paris. The painting’s prominence has also made it a target for climate change protesters.

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In the painting's first "attack" of 2024, two protesters from the French activist group Riposte Alimentaire, which means “Food Response,” threw pumpkin soup at the famed painting, ABC News reported. So, is the Mona Lisa ruined?

The Mona Lisa in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Source: Getty Images
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Is the Mona Lisa ruined after the January 2024 protest?

Rest assured, the Mona Lisa was not damaged in the protest, which took place on Jan. 28, 2024. The painting is protected by bulletproof glass that is “virtually impermeable,” according to Goppion Technology, the company that designed the painting’s display case.

The painting’s secure display case was first installed in 2005, and then fitted with “new glass for greater protection” in 2019, per Goppion Technology. The extra protective glass came in handy in 2022 when a protester smeared cake on the Mona Lisa's glass.

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Why did climate activists from Riposte Alimentaire spray the Mona Lisa with pumpkin soup?

In the Jan. 28, 2024, protest, two women walked past the crowd of people taking pictures of the Mona Lisa, and threw thermoses full of pumpkin soup at the painting, ABC News reported. The women — Sasha, 24, and Marie-Juliette, 63 — then crawled under the barrier separating the painting from onlookers, and took off their coats to reveal their Riposte Alimentaire T-shirts.

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“What is more important? Art or healthy, sustainable food?” one of the activists shouted to the crowd in French, reported NBC News.

Pretty quickly, museum staff brought out black screens to shield the display from the crowd, as the women continued speaking to bystanders; they then both finished speaking, and held their right hands up in silence as the black screens continued to surround them.

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In a post to X, Riposte Alimentaire stated that the protest was held to “demand the establishment of Sustainable Food Social Security.”

“In France, one in three people skip meals due to lack of means. At the same time, 20 percent of the food produced is thrown away. Our model stigmatizes the most precarious and does not respect our fundamental right to food,” the group said in the statement on social media.

The group also claimed that current European free trade treaties result in unfair competition for local farmers and the acceptance of “foreign products that do not meet minimum ecological and social standards.”

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Climate change has led to falling agriculture yields and “exposes us to serious good insecurity,” the group claimed. They called for a transformation of France’s food production model and “the integration of food into the general social security system.”

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Riposte Alimentaire is part of an international network of climate activist groups known as the A22 Network. According to the A22 Network website, groups in the network “commit to mass civil disobedience.”

The U.K. climate activist group Just Stop Oil is also part of the A22 Network. In November 2023, Just Stop Oil protesters vandalized Diego Velázquez's painting “Rokeby Venus.” In 2022, two Just Stop Oil protesters threw tomato soup at Van Gogh’s painting “Sunflowers.”

French farmers are also calling for change.

Activists aren’t the only ones calling for change to France’s food production model. As Reuters reported, French farmers angry with the country’s agricultural policies are staging protests across the country by blocking highways with tractors and other farm equipment.

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