|Two high quality Qing ceramic vases, dating from the late 17th or early 18th century, are seen in an undated file photo.
A man who tripped, fell down a staircase and smashed into three rare Chinese vases in a museum two weeks ago said on Monday "it was just a regrettable accident."
"I snagged my shoelace, missed the step and 'crash bang wallop,' there was a million pieces of high quality Qing ceramics lying around beneath me," Nick Flynn said.
"There is no way my pocket will stretch toreimbursethem for the damage that I have done".
A regular visitor to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, Flynn, 42, expressed surprise the three vases had not been secured in some way.
"They were just left lying on the window sill."
The vases, dating from the late 17th or early 18th century, were donated to the museum in 1948 and were one of its most recognisable exhibits.
Shocked but determined museum staff have vowed to glue the pieces back together again and take steps to ensure a similar accident doesn't happen again.
"I have had a letter from a Duncan Robinson," Flynn said. "He is the director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, and he has written to me asking me not to visit the museum again in the near future."