Ultimately, was this a wise thing to do?

In an interview in the November 2015 issue of Harper’s Bazaar (“The Private World of Patti Smith”, by Joan Juliet Buck), the composer/musician/poet/author Patti Smith spoke about visiting Assisi in 2012 while she was composing “Constantine’s Dream”. “…so I went to Assisi, and the monks took me way up high inside the basilica where they were restoring some of the Giottos. I had to wear a hard hat. They were working on the sky, and they gave me a brush and some paint and said, ‘Please.’ I said, ‘I can’t touch Giotto’s painting.’ They said, ‘It’s watercolor.’ I said, ‘I’m so sorry, Giotto. It’s not my fault…’” Not having heard at the time of this conservation encounter, I checked the contemporary news accounts and saw photos of Smith brush and palette in hand. Smith was sincere in her trepidation about touching the work and this sounds like it was done to gain publicity for the project. Ultimately, was it a wise thing for conservation to imply that a non-professional can be brought in at a moment’s notice to help restore a work of art.