The Palace Museum in Beijing is discouraging visitors from pocketing rocks found on the grounds after a tourist attracted attention for showing off her snatched collection on social media.
Museum management told media that despite the museum's long history, none of the polished stones used to pave the gardens' mosaic paths are relics. Instead, they are part of recent renovations that are repaired annually.
Concerns first arose Monday after the tourist posted two photos to Sina Weibo showing handfuls of stones, claiming to have "picked them out from the paths as souvenirs."
The post went viral and has since been deleted. The tourist later said that museum maintenance crew gave her the rocks.
Workers explained that missing rocks are a common sight on the heavily used paths. The museum, also known as the Forbidden City, saw 16.7 million visitors in 2017, Xinhua reported.
"It's usual for some of the pebbles to come loose despite being fixed with cement," said one employee. "Lots of people walk on them."
While it's also usual for tourists to ask maintenance for rocks to take home, the museum is now requesting that visitors stop removing rocks from the grounds.
"We hope that the tourists can enjoy the mosaic paths and leave the rocks with us," said the worker.