Against Taking Photos in Museums

People should not take photographs in museums. This is me doing a 180 degree revision of my opinion. I mean, I myself take them and show them to you here. I think to limit cultural distribution is silly and that to take a flashless pictures of something in a museum can do nil amount of harm. I now know differently.

I now know that it is a scandalous practice detrimental to museums. On visits to the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the crowds so much as blown away by the number of people who only looked at the art through a camera lens. Pause, click, pause, click they walked through the museum documenting their trip meanwhile getting in my way, accidentally taking a photograph with flash, and generally showing little interest in the the art. They were more oblivious to the people around them as they tried to get a good shot.

Really, should photographs be allowed in museums at all? Do you take photographs? Does photography interfere with your enjoyment of art?

4 thoughts on “Against Taking Photos in Museums

  1. It’s an interesting discussion. Personally I do not see the point in taking pictures of paintings in a museum, but I love to take pictures of sculptures and installation art, because playing with the angle can give a totally new point of view on the original art piece.

  2. I agree: a photo fo a painting never recreates how good it is!

    I can see how a photo of an installation, or performance for that matter, can be well done and document the presentation.

    It’s probably hard to capture that on a camera phone, which is what quite a few people had..

  3. I work right across from the Empire State Building, and every day I have to dodge tourists photographing the building. It seems silly, since they could get free professional photos from the web, but one has to accept the fact that it’s not so much to have a photo that they do this, but more to make their experience concrete.

  4. You’re right – at MOMA, especially, it’s just bizarre. At first (the last time I was there), I found myself dodging and deferring, politely trying to stay out of the way of the photographers.

    Then I came to my senses and got in their way. If I wanted to look at the brushwork, I was gonna get up close and look at it!

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