Times Historical Artifacts Returned To The Headlines In The 21st Century

Over 100 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of Times Historical Artifacts Returned To The Headlines In The 21st Century
Voting Rules
Vote up the historical artifacts better left behind the glass in a museum.

By the time an item becomes an iconic and treasured piece of history, it's usually beyond the scope of what the media would consider headline-worthy news. Tucked away in private collections or painstakingly displayed and cared for at museums, these historical artifacts usually gain only a passing glance from curious onlookers as they move from exhibit to exhibit. 

However, not all artifacts transition so quietly from being the center of an important historical event, to an obscure piece, to a larger museum display. For better or worse, some resurface to make national and worldwide news as current cultural influencers bring the items back to center stage. 

While some may view these resurgences as destructive and unnecessary, others believe that the revival of historical artifacts in the current climate draws attention to and honors the past in a new way. This list features historical artifacts that returned to headlines in the 21st century. Vote up the ones you believe were better left alone. 

  • 1
    127 VOTES

    At The 2022 Met Gala, Kim Kardashian Donned The Dress Marilyn Monroe Wore To Serenade JFK

    Marilyn Monroe's dress became a piece of modern history as soon as she stepped on stage to serenade John F. Kennedy at a fundraising and birthday celebration in 1961. After being auctioned off in 1999, the rhinestone-studded garment hung protectively over a mannequin in a climate-controlled setting- first in a private home and then on display at Ripley's Believe It or Not! in Orlando, FL. 

    Then, to the shock of many, the gown resurfaced as a fashion piece - this time as reality TV star Kim Kardashian's chosen attire for the 2022 Met Gala. The star (pictured here at the 2018 gala) chose to wear the original gown for the red carpet photoshoot, then changed into an identical copy of the dress for the rest of the evening. Though a 2017 report on the garment's condition mentioned that some of the seams were pulled, the press blamed Kardashian for damaging the dress. 

    127 votes
  • Environmentalists Vandalized Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' Painting With Tomato Soup To Protest Oil
    Photo: Just Stop Oil / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

    Well-known for their climate protests, the group Just Stop Oil chose to make a lasting impression on a famous post-impressionist piece of art. 

    Donning “Just Stop Oil” T-shirts, two environmental activists glued themselves to the wall of London's national gallery after throwing cans of tomato soup on Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers painting. The police detained the duo, charging them with suspicion of criminal damage and aggravated trespass. 

    Thankfully, the actual painting was protected with glass, and the vandalism only caused minor damage to the surrounding frame. Still, the videos went viral, giving the organization a platform to voice its aims. 

    A spokesperson of Just Stop Oil stated: 

    Human creativity and brilliance is on show in this gallery, yet our heritage is being destroyed by our government’s failure to act on the climate and cost of living crisis… 

    What use is art when we face the collapse of civil society?… The art establishment, artists and the art-loving public need to step up into Civil Resistance if they want to live in a world where humans are around to appreciate art.

    124 votes
  • 3
    111 VOTES

    Kim Kardashian Purchased Princess Diana's Cross Pendant For Nearly $200K

    Before Princess Diana's cross pendant went up for auction in early 2023, it had been worn only by her and hadn't been seen in public since her tragic passing in 1997. Kim Kardashian, who said she's starting a collection of vintage items once worn by the powerful women who influenced and inspired her the most, claimed the piece five minutes before the Sotheby's auction was set to end. 

    For the pendant, which consists of square-cut amethysts surrounded by circular-cut diamonds, Kardashian shelled out $197,453 - double what the auctioneers were expecting. The jeweler responsible for the pendant was reportedly close to Diana and also provided her engagement ring in 1981. 

    111 votes
  • 4
    129 VOTES

    Lizzo Played James Madison's Centuries-Old Crystal Flute At A Concert In Washington, DC

    As a congratulatory gift for his second inauguration in 1813, James Madison received a custom-made crystal flute from a French fluter. After being housed with almost 2,000 other flutes at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, it again entered the world spotlight in 2022 when musical artist Lizzo was offered a chance to play it at her concert. 

    Lizzo was making a stop at the nation's capital as part of her tour, and librarian of Congress Carla Hayden thought it might be the perfect time to dust off one of the instruments in the library's extensive collection. After Hayden tweeted a photo of numerous flutes and tagged Lizzo in an invitation to play a few of them, the artist immediately took the librarian up on the offer. As a classically trained flutist, Lizzo chose Madison's crystal flute for the occasion.

    After playing the unique flute for a special performance at the Library of Congress, Lizzo had the opportunity to play it again the following day at her concert for her fans. Though the artist regularly plays her own flute on stage, having the opportunity to play a founding father's commemorative gift while twerking to the beat was a historical moment for the rapper and the nation.

    Upon returning the crystal instrument to a Library of Congress representative, she excitedly shared with her fans: 

    B***h, I just twerked and played James Madison's crystal flute from the 1800s… We just made history tonight!… History is freaking cool, you guys!

    129 votes