No Photo: A Discussion on Museum Photo Policies

by Art Fag City on January 25, 2008 · 53 comments Events

Malevich, White on WhiteFor those who find tourists roaming around museums with their cameras obnoxious, complaints about restrictive museum photo policies by bloggers and open source freaks may not illicit much sympathy. Even I get annoyed by the constant accidental flashes and elbowing in the name of average photographs, and Art Fag City can only benefit from laxer picture taking rights.

That said, I still have little patience for museums and galleries who don't allow photography. Generally the press is excluded from this policy, but since you basically need to be wearing a hat with a flashing red light reading blogger to keep the guards from harassing you, it seems to me much easier to just let people take pictures as they please. The concerns of the museums are much more complicated than this however, and while I tend not to have too much sympathy for museum stores worried about the loss of postcard sales when they are charging Louis Vuitton rent, the issues they raise need to be discussed. A recent conversation on the icommons list serve did just this so I'm reposting some of the thought expressed in that thread for consideration.

 

Fred Benenson

After having many conversations with people working at museums who are concerned about photography, the really clear point is that they don’t care about copyright or respecting patrons so much as preserving the income of their gift shops. A museum that prohibits the public from taking home a snapshot of a work they love is also a museum that can charge 1.99 Euro for a postcard of that work, regardless of whether or not it is in the public domain or whether or not they’re trying to assert copyright over it. Museum gift shops are incredibly lucrative and are viable business models that non-profits can depend on, so when something comes along that might appear to threaten their primary source of income, they get defensive. This probably explains why there is such confusion over the rights of museum patrons — some, not all, museums will use any excuse possible to prevent patrons from reproducing the work on their walls.

So museums have the right to grant you access to their (presumably) private property so they can tell you what you can and can’t do on their property. There are exceptions to this (e.g., white folks use this bathroom, etc.) but it doesn’t look like anyone is fighting for the digital-photographer’s bill of rights in the same way other public rights have been established in private spaces.

Jimmy Wales

This is a fascinating point. If correct, then museums really should have “photographer times”, perhaps charging an extra fee. If the idea is that the main income they get is from the on-premise gift shop, this changes my thinking a lot.

I tend to think of museums as wanting to control digital reproductions as an effort to prevent competition from online poster shops, bookstores, etc., i.e. they want royalties from bogusly copyrighted quality reproductions. But if that is not the main point, if the main point of photography restrictions is to get money out of the customers on the premises of the museum (an understandable objective) and also concern about flashes and bothering other people…

An official photography time with an extra fee for a permit would mean a controlled setting, i.e. when you pay your extra $25 to be allowed to take pictures, maybe you have to put down a $75 deposit and if you use a flash (which arguably could damage the works, though I think that’s a pretty dodgy idea) you lose your deposit. [Editors note: I think that fee is WAY TOO HIGH for practical purposes, but the idea is a good one.]

This could actually be a money maker for the museum if they get a professional photographer to teach a class to people wanting to do this. And it would not interfere with gift shop revenues for the bulk of customers who would not be allowed to photograph. And the resulting works would, quite properly, be freely distributable by the photographers if they wanted to do that.

Fred Benenson

My understanding is that flashes do about 10x damage to a work as a flash of sunlight and that this is a very real concern for many works. Even contemporary photography can be degraded with constant exposure to harsh light like a strobe flash.

But the idea of granting a priori access to photographers seems like a great compromise. Along with ‘photo times’ people could also purchase photo passes. Hopefully determining the price point won’t be too difficult, though $25 per museum might get pretty steep for some.

I think this will work the best with museums that have purely public domain works, because works that are protected by copyright would obviously present serious issues.

On the other hand, photography may be seen as a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy and some museum curators won’t want to formally instantiate any kind of program promoting the photography of their carefully preserved acquisitions, even if it helps with a bottom line. I think that as long as we can make the argument that museums are created and maintained for the public good (there are plenty of exceptions to this, I know) we should be able to find some who are relatively open to this idea.

The Louvre might be a good place to start.

{ 50 comments }

James Wagner January 25, 2008 at 10:11 pm

Fred and Jimmy, you both suggest that museums who are concerned about photography in their galleries are really only concerned about preserving the income of their gift shops.

But museums normally don’t prohibit photography of the work they own (the permanent collections), and that is what you find on the postcard stand in the shop, so your arguments don’t hold water.

Both Paddy and Fred suggest that the use of flash might justify photography prohibitions in museums, Paddy for the nuisance it causes, Fred for the threat to the art.

But at MoMA in the galleries where photography isn’t prohibited, I see guards totally indifferent to flash use, so once again the museum’s policy can’t be defended on the basis of an argument being made in this post.

In my own practice, for one thing, I try very hard not to be intrusive, and not to cause people to feel they must go around me, when I’m using a camera anywhere. For another, I totally abhor flash photography, both the operation and the effect, in almost every application. I never use a flash myself, and it annoys the hell out of me in both museums and galleries.

I absolutely cannot believe Museums don’t post advisories about flash photography. There really are reasons to be less concerned about damage to most new work only temporarily on display, and my very public statements have made it obvious that I don’t like the idea of visitors being policed, but I would not have a problem if galleries also posted such messages.

James Wagner January 25, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Fred and Jimmy, you both suggest that museums who are concerned about photography in their galleries are really only concerned about preserving the income of their gift shops.

But museums normally don’t prohibit photography of the work they own (the permanent collections), and that is what you find on the postcard stand in the shop, so your arguments don’t hold water.

Both Paddy and Fred suggest that the use of flash might justify photography prohibitions in museums, Paddy for the nuisance it causes, Fred for the threat to the art.

But at MoMA in the galleries where photography isn’t prohibited, I see guards totally indifferent to flash use, so once again the museum’s policy can’t be defended on the basis of an argument being made in this post.

In my own practice, for one thing, I try very hard not to be intrusive, and not to cause people to feel they must go around me, when I’m using a camera anywhere. For another, I totally abhor flash photography, both the operation and the effect, in almost every application. I never use a flash myself, and it annoys the hell out of me in both museums and galleries.

I absolutely cannot believe Museums don’t post advisories about flash photography. There really are reasons to be less concerned about damage to most new work only temporarily on display, and my very public statements have made it obvious that I don’t like the idea of visitors being policed, but I would not have a problem if galleries also posted such messages.

Art Fag City January 25, 2008 at 10:38 pm

Hi James,

Thanks for your thoughts. Fred provided a pertinent link in the thread that didn’t make it to reposting from the AGO, a museum that is camera friendly, but doesn’t allow flash photography.

As for MoMA, I assume the photo taking climate is different than at PS1, whose guards hound you if you look like you might have a camera, because they don’t own the works. I’m not sure I think it’s that retrograde for the MoMA to institute a no flash photography rule – though I don’t know if that’s what you are suggesting.

Art Fag City January 25, 2008 at 5:38 pm

Hi James,

Thanks for your thoughts. Fred provided a pertinent link in the thread that didn’t make it to reposting from the AGO, a museum that is camera friendly, but doesn’t allow flash photography.

As for MoMA, I assume the photo taking climate is different than at PS1, whose guards hound you if you look like you might have a camera, because they don’t own the works. I’m not sure I think it’s that retrograde for the MoMA to institute a no flash photography rule – though I don’t know if that’s what you are suggesting.

James Wagner January 25, 2008 at 11:51 pm

No, not all all Paddy. I think it’s perfectly acceptable for a museum (and perhaps a gallery) to ask visitors not to use flash photography. I would only hope that it would be done silently, with a sign visible as you enter, and with as much good grace, and sometimes humor, as the announcements which routinely remind us to turn off cellphones in theatres.

The reason for such a sign should be consideration for the comfort of others. I didn’t mention it in my first comment, but there now doesn’t seem to be any science to support the argument that flash photography damages the art, and that includes photographs. This could explain the current indifference on the part of the MoMA guards in the museum’s permanent galleries, but it doesn’t help the visiting experience of those not flashing.

James Wagner January 25, 2008 at 6:51 pm

No, not all all Paddy. I think it’s perfectly acceptable for a museum (and perhaps a gallery) to ask visitors not to use flash photography. I would only hope that it would be done silently, with a sign visible as you enter, and with as much good grace, and sometimes humor, as the announcements which routinely remind us to turn off cellphones in theatres.

The reason for such a sign should be consideration for the comfort of others. I didn’t mention it in my first comment, but there now doesn’t seem to be any science to support the argument that flash photography damages the art, and that includes photographs. This could explain the current indifference on the part of the MoMA guards in the museum’s permanent galleries, but it doesn’t help the visiting experience of those not flashing.

James Wagner January 26, 2008 at 12:06 am

Paddy, I just went to the AGO link you indicated Fred had provided, and I found this: “Photography (no flash) is permitted in the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre only. Photography and videography are prohibited in all other galleries.”

Actually, not so friendly. Did I miss something?

James Wagner January 25, 2008 at 7:06 pm

Paddy, I just went to the AGO link you indicated Fred had provided, and I found this: “Photography (no flash) is permitted in the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre only. Photography and videography are prohibited in all other galleries.”

Actually, not so friendly. Did I miss something?

Art Fag City January 26, 2008 at 12:12 am

Opps – this was used only as an example of a sign, not as a photo friendly museum. I had just assumed the existence of the sign was an indication of a more friendly attitude.

Art Fag City January 26, 2008 at 12:12 am

Opps – this was used only as an example of a sign, not as a photo friendly museum. I had just assumed the existence of the sign was an indication of a more friendly attitude.

Art Fag City January 25, 2008 at 7:12 pm

Opps – this was used only as an example of a sign, not as a photo friendly museum. I had just assumed the existence of the sign was an indication of a more friendly attitude.

Franklin January 26, 2008 at 12:42 am

But at MoMA in the galleries where photography isn’t prohibited, I see guards totally indifferent to flash use, so once again the museum’s policy can’t be defended on the basis of an argument being made in this post.

I attended MoMA a couple of weeks ago. A woman took a flash photograph of a Matisse, and a guard approached her and made her delete the shot. I would have felt okay if he had hit her with a baton. That shit makes me crazy. (The assault on my viewing pleasure, not the proprietary issues.)

Franklin January 26, 2008 at 12:42 am

But at MoMA in the galleries where photography isn’t prohibited, I see guards totally indifferent to flash use, so once again the museum’s policy can’t be defended on the basis of an argument being made in this post.

I attended MoMA a couple of weeks ago. A woman took a flash photograph of a Matisse, and a guard approached her and made her delete the shot. I would have felt okay if he had hit her with a baton. That shit makes me crazy. (The assault on my viewing pleasure, not the proprietary issues.)

Franklin January 25, 2008 at 7:42 pm

But at MoMA in the galleries where photography isn’t prohibited, I see guards totally indifferent to flash use, so once again the museum’s policy can’t be defended on the basis of an argument being made in this post.

I attended MoMA a couple of weeks ago. A woman took a flash photograph of a Matisse, and a guard approached her and made her delete the shot. I would have felt okay if he had hit her with a baton. That shit makes me crazy. (The assault on my viewing pleasure, not the proprietary issues.)

Rob Myers January 26, 2008 at 11:22 am

“there now doesn’t seem to be any science to support the argument that flash photography damages the art”

Yes I’m sure I’ve read that but I couldn’t find a reference during the discussion.

Does anyone have a reference to current research on this?

Fred and Jimmy are both cool but the conversation turned into one of economic detail for property owners (sic) rather than one of artistic principle. People shouldn’t be prevented from recording artworks (this includes drawing), but they also shouldn’t disrupt other people’s appreciation and recording of artworks so flashes are bad for that reason. Unless the gallery is empty. 😉

Rob Myers January 26, 2008 at 11:22 am

“there now doesn’t seem to be any science to support the argument that flash photography damages the art”

Yes I’m sure I’ve read that but I couldn’t find a reference during the discussion.

Does anyone have a reference to current research on this?

Fred and Jimmy are both cool but the conversation turned into one of economic detail for property owners (sic) rather than one of artistic principle. People shouldn’t be prevented from recording artworks (this includes drawing), but they also shouldn’t disrupt other people’s appreciation and recording of artworks so flashes are bad for that reason. Unless the gallery is empty. 😉

Rob Myers January 26, 2008 at 6:22 am

“there now doesn’t seem to be any science to support the argument that flash photography damages the art”

Yes I’m sure I’ve read that but I couldn’t find a reference during the discussion.

Does anyone have a reference to current research on this?

Fred and Jimmy are both cool but the conversation turned into one of economic detail for property owners (sic) rather than one of artistic principle. People shouldn’t be prevented from recording artworks (this includes drawing), but they also shouldn’t disrupt other people’s appreciation and recording of artworks so flashes are bad for that reason. Unless the gallery is empty. 😉

_Meh_ January 26, 2008 at 3:37 pm

Interesting discussion – I think there is definitely a lack of communication from institutions about how and why photography might be allowed or restricted, and there is definitely an inconsistency in enforcement (see the MoMA example above).

It might be interesting to examine how experience is being mitigated by cameras and cellphone cameras for many people to a greater degree. Watch people walk through a museum and you’ll find at least a few who take a picture, move to the next work, take a picture, continue.

On a side note, my biggest gripe is when I respect a museum’s policy to not have photography and then go to the gift shop and can’t find a reproduction of the works I wanted to photograph.

_Meh_ January 26, 2008 at 3:37 pm

Interesting discussion – I think there is definitely a lack of communication from institutions about how and why photography might be allowed or restricted, and there is definitely an inconsistency in enforcement (see the MoMA example above).

It might be interesting to examine how experience is being mitigated by cameras and cellphone cameras for many people to a greater degree. Watch people walk through a museum and you’ll find at least a few who take a picture, move to the next work, take a picture, continue.

On a side note, my biggest gripe is when I respect a museum’s policy to not have photography and then go to the gift shop and can’t find a reproduction of the works I wanted to photograph.

_Meh_ January 26, 2008 at 10:37 am

Interesting discussion – I think there is definitely a lack of communication from institutions about how and why photography might be allowed or restricted, and there is definitely an inconsistency in enforcement (see the MoMA example above).

It might be interesting to examine how experience is being mitigated by cameras and cellphone cameras for many people to a greater degree. Watch people walk through a museum and you’ll find at least a few who take a picture, move to the next work, take a picture, continue.

On a side note, my biggest gripe is when I respect a museum’s policy to not have photography and then go to the gift shop and can’t find a reproduction of the works I wanted to photograph.

Art Fag City January 26, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Rob: To be fair, Fred did discuss the fact that people frequently draw artworks in museums. I only reposted part of the conversation — it was too long for anyone to read all the way through as is — and the part above was the meat of the discussion.

Art Fag City January 26, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Rob: To be fair, Fred did discuss the fact that people frequently draw artworks in museums. I only reposted part of the conversation — it was too long for anyone to read all the way through as is — and the part above was the meat of the discussion.

Art Fag City January 26, 2008 at 2:33 pm

Rob: To be fair, Fred did discuss the fact that people frequently draw artworks in museums. I only reposted part of the conversation — it was too long for anyone to read all the way through as is — and the part above was the meat of the discussion.

Rob Myers January 27, 2008 at 2:31 pm

AFC: Sure. I’m sorry if I was unfair to Fred or Jimmy.

Rob Myers January 27, 2008 at 2:31 pm

AFC: Sure. I’m sorry if I was unfair to Fred or Jimmy.

Rob Myers January 27, 2008 at 9:31 am

AFC: Sure. I’m sorry if I was unfair to Fred or Jimmy.

Art Fag City January 27, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Rob: Don’t worry about it! There’s no way you could have known what was on the rest of the thread.

Art Fag City January 27, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Rob: Don’t worry about it! There’s no way you could have known what was on the rest of the thread.

Art Fag City January 27, 2008 at 11:35 am

Rob: Don’t worry about it! There’s no way you could have known what was on the rest of the thread.

L.M. January 29, 2008 at 5:08 am

Before shooting at the Louvre, several years ago, I asked a French photographer if I would have a problem, she explained that they didn’t allow professional photographers to work there without permission, but not to worry because the French security guards would never think that a woman with a camera could be a professional.

L.M. January 29, 2008 at 5:08 am

Before shooting at the Louvre, several years ago, I asked a French photographer if I would have a problem, she explained that they didn’t allow professional photographers to work there without permission, but not to worry because the French security guards would never think that a woman with a camera could be a professional.

L.M. January 29, 2008 at 12:08 am

Before shooting at the Louvre, several years ago, I asked a French photographer if I would have a problem, she explained that they didn’t allow professional photographers to work there without permission, but not to worry because the French security guards would never think that a woman with a camera could be a professional.

Tim January 30, 2008 at 7:07 pm

There was interesting discussion on this issue at BoingBoing last year…

http://www.boingboing.net/2007/11/13/photobans-at-pop-art.html

Note the comment from Isara, who works at a museum. She basically says that it’s the owners of the art that are uptight about photography, not the museums. Thus, why most museums are mainly okay with photos of their permanent collections.

So, perhaps the problem is with copyright law.

I too enjoy taking photos in museums and galleries too, and abhor flash.

One idea for a solution: You have to sign up for a pass by (1) signing something that says you’re only using the images for non-commercial purposes and (2) demonstrating that you know how to disable the flash on your camera. The pass would cost $5 and you’d wear it around your neck.

Tim January 30, 2008 at 2:07 pm

There was interesting discussion on this issue at BoingBoing last year…

http://www.boingboing.net/2007/11/13/photobans-at-pop-art.html

Note the comment from Isara, who works at a museum. She basically says that it’s the owners of the art that are uptight about photography, not the museums. Thus, why most museums are mainly okay with photos of their permanent collections.

So, perhaps the problem is with copyright law.

I too enjoy taking photos in museums and galleries too, and abhor flash.

One idea for a solution: You have to sign up for a pass by (1) signing something that says you’re only using the images for non-commercial purposes and (2) demonstrating that you know how to disable the flash on your camera. The pass would cost $5 and you’d wear it around your neck.

Michael January 30, 2008 at 11:16 pm

This kind of thing runs deeper than just cameras and flashes, though.

I was recently at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego where I was stopped from taking pictures with my flashless cellphone camera. I wasn’t even trying to take a picture of any work – just my girlfriend. When I asked about this, I was eventually told I couldn’t use anything that could possible take pictures at all… even a low res cellphone camera.

How is this a good policy? I can understand the issue of gift shop income or artist’s wishes over documentation, but this seems like an out of touch, institutional sickness.

It makes me sad for the museum.

Michael January 30, 2008 at 6:16 pm

This kind of thing runs deeper than just cameras and flashes, though.

I was recently at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego where I was stopped from taking pictures with my flashless cellphone camera. I wasn’t even trying to take a picture of any work – just my girlfriend. When I asked about this, I was eventually told I couldn’t use anything that could possible take pictures at all… even a low res cellphone camera.

How is this a good policy? I can understand the issue of gift shop income or artist’s wishes over documentation, but this seems like an out of touch, institutional sickness.

It makes me sad for the museum.

justin heidman February 1, 2008 at 3:37 am

Straigh dope answered a question about flashes damaging work:
http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mflashphoto.html

Consensus: flash photography hurts work.

justin heidman January 31, 2008 at 10:37 pm

Straigh dope answered a question about flashes damaging work:
http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mflashphoto.html

Consensus: flash photography hurts work.

Alexander March 5, 2008 at 4:13 am

Regarding your post and the questions of photography and how annoying it is for you.

As a former employee at MoMA and former security officer, I must say that for all the complaining that guards are completely indifferent I must stand in their defense and say that it is not only their fault for the constant photographic intrusion on the museum. The museum is a business, not a place of culture anymore, sad for me to admit so. Tourists are encouraged to arrive for the high admittance fee, and their experience is to be made more inclusive in that “art belongs to us all”, which is a false pretense to abuse paintings and other works through bland photography.

The guards try their best, but YOU try standing on post for 8 hours at a time (10 on Fridays), and you try to keep people well behaved without any real powers while at the same time attempting to keep the photographers from flashing back and forth. YOU try to prevent people from touching pieces, and then eating, and using the cell phone, I could go on just as you do when you complain.

Start appreciating the people who work there instead of constantly criticizing; it is their jobs but they have more on their minds than your comfort, my friend.

Alexander March 5, 2008 at 4:13 am

Regarding your post and the questions of photography and how annoying it is for you.

As a former employee at MoMA and former security officer, I must say that for all the complaining that guards are completely indifferent I must stand in their defense and say that it is not only their fault for the constant photographic intrusion on the museum. The museum is a business, not a place of culture anymore, sad for me to admit so. Tourists are encouraged to arrive for the high admittance fee, and their experience is to be made more inclusive in that “art belongs to us all”, which is a false pretense to abuse paintings and other works through bland photography.

The guards try their best, but YOU try standing on post for 8 hours at a time (10 on Fridays), and you try to keep people well behaved without any real powers while at the same time attempting to keep the photographers from flashing back and forth. YOU try to prevent people from touching pieces, and then eating, and using the cell phone, I could go on just as you do when you complain.

Start appreciating the people who work there instead of constantly criticizing; it is their jobs but they have more on their minds than your comfort, my friend.

Alexander March 4, 2008 at 11:13 pm

Regarding your post and the questions of photography and how annoying it is for you.

As a former employee at MoMA and former security officer, I must say that for all the complaining that guards are completely indifferent I must stand in their defense and say that it is not only their fault for the constant photographic intrusion on the museum. The museum is a business, not a place of culture anymore, sad for me to admit so. Tourists are encouraged to arrive for the high admittance fee, and their experience is to be made more inclusive in that “art belongs to us all”, which is a false pretense to abuse paintings and other works through bland photography.

The guards try their best, but YOU try standing on post for 8 hours at a time (10 on Fridays), and you try to keep people well behaved without any real powers while at the same time attempting to keep the photographers from flashing back and forth. YOU try to prevent people from touching pieces, and then eating, and using the cell phone, I could go on just as you do when you complain.

Start appreciating the people who work there instead of constantly criticizing; it is their jobs but they have more on their minds than your comfort, my friend.

Queens denizen June 12, 2008 at 3:56 pm

I suspect many museums institute a blanket “no photography” instead of “no flash” because it’s easier to enforce.

I’ve been in a dozen or so trips to Western Europe, and there’s always some moron who won’t bother to shut off their flash (either doesn’t care or doesn’t know how).

Queens denizen June 12, 2008 at 10:56 am

I suspect many museums institute a blanket “no photography” instead of “no flash” because it’s easier to enforce.

I’ve been in a dozen or so trips to Western Europe, and there’s always some moron who won’t bother to shut off their flash (either doesn’t care or doesn’t know how).

Marty January 31, 2010 at 2:53 pm

There are about a dozen legitimate reasons why museums and galleries might want to ban photography, with or without flash, but “avoiding damage to the exhibits” is not legitimate.

Fifteen years ago the National Gallery of London ran a 3-year trial and found that 400,000 photoflashes caused no more damage to paintings than the normal gallery lighting did. For a summary see:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14519701.500-old-masters-will-not-fade-in-a-flash.html

See also the same conclusions published in Museum Management and Curatorship, 1994, Vol 13 (1) p.104.

Internet postings are full of assertions and occasional anecdotal stories of damage caused by flash, but I have failed to find a single piece of evidence backed by science or experiment.

Marty January 31, 2010 at 10:53 am

There are about a dozen legitimate reasons why museums and galleries might want to ban photography, with or without flash, but “avoiding damage to the exhibits” is not legitimate.

Fifteen years ago the National Gallery of London ran a 3-year trial and found that 400,000 photoflashes caused no more damage to paintings than the normal gallery lighting did. For a summary see:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14519701.500-old-masters-will-not-fade-in-a-flash.html

See also the same conclusions published in Museum Management and Curatorship, 1994, Vol 13 (1) p.104.

Internet postings are full of assertions and occasional anecdotal stories of damage caused by flash, but I have failed to find a single piece of evidence backed by science or experiment.

JR February 22, 2010 at 11:57 am

Hmmm why not just sneak a few quick pictures with a cell phone camera with the flash disabled? If its a crowded location or you have a few friends with you, that makes it easy to get away with! Sometimes its just easier to quietly break certain rules than question or try to change them!

JR February 22, 2010 at 11:57 am

Hmmm why not just sneak a few quick pictures with a cell phone camera with the flash disabled? If its a crowded location or you have a few friends with you, that makes it easy to get away with! Sometimes its just easier to quietly break certain rules than question or try to change them!

JR February 22, 2010 at 7:57 am

Hmmm why not just sneak a few quick pictures with a cell phone camera with the flash disabled? If its a crowded location or you have a few friends with you, that makes it easy to get away with! Sometimes its just easier to quietly break certain rules than question or try to change them!

mike July 30, 2011 at 9:25 pm

One of the reasons I go to museums is to see works that I don’t know much about and when I do see them, I like to photograph the art and the placard. If I’m not able to do so, it is very difficult to do further research on the piece when I’m back home. If the museum would provide more information on each piece with an app, for example, this would great enhance the visitors experience. Then, if it is a cherished piece, it would be even more desirable to buy a copy or a book on related works.

Nora April 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm

I work in a museum that does not allow photography, and I entirely understand people wanting to take pictures — I do it myself wherever it’s allowed and it helps me keep track of artists I want to research.  HOWEVER, my museum is a non-collecting institution, so we do not own any of the pieces we exhibit.  Traveling exhibition contracts almost across the board state that photography is not to be permitted in the galleries, which means that we are strictly legally bound to prohibit it.  Although there are a few pieces in the museum we could allow it for, it would be too confusing (and has been when we’ve tested this out) to allow pics of only a few pieces.  We therefore find that the only policy we can have is a no photography policy, and it makes me sad that people feel the museum is at fault for this — we have no real choice in the matter without opening ourselves up for law suits and ruining our relationships with lenders.  The real truth of the thing is that it is almost impossible to stop someone from taking a picture if they really want to anyway, and we are not going to crack down so hard are as to go after someone who’s taken a photo without permission, but we do our due dilegence to dis-allow photography.  If you really want an image, I’m sure you can find it somewhere.   

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: