Due to safety concerns, museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and several others have banned the latest photography trend, selfie sticks, and rightfully so. The museums have not banned selfies, just the long, metal rods that pose a threat to other museum-goers and the art itself due to its swinging nature. Museums fear that someone or something could accidentally get hit by one of these sticks.
The ban on selfie sticks is a matter of safety. Although there have been no reported issues with selfie sticks, predicted problems have caused museums to take on preventative measures, according to The New York Times. Museums are worried that someone taking a selfie may not realize what they’re doing and accidentally hit another museum-goer or a piece of artwork and damage it. “We do not want to have to put all the art under glass,” said Deborah Ziska, the chief of Public Information at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, according to The New York Times.
The Met is worried about personal safety and space. Someone trying to focus their eyes on their extended camera may not realize their surroundings and fall over or onto someone or something. “If people are not paying attention in the Temple of Dendur, they can end up in the water with the crocodile sculpture. We have a lot of stairs and balconies you could fall from, and stairs you could trip on,” said Sree Sreenivasan, the chief digital officer at the Met, according to The New York Times. Also, to take a selfie is within one’s own personal space but with a selfie stick, which extends from two to three feet farther than an arm’s reach, someone else’s personal space may be invaded. Any article that swings around and takes up unnecessary space, such as backpacks, monopods, tripods and umbrellas, are prohibited in most museums for the same safety and space reasons, according to The Huffington Post.
The ban on selfie sticks is not a ban on pictures. Art museums realize that pictures of the art serves as free advertisement and museums not only tolerate pictures and selfies, but encourage them, according to The New York Times. It’s great that museums allow pictures. Museums are experiences that people will look back on one day and think, “Wow, I can’t believe I actually got to see that.” Someone from a country across the world visiting the Met probably won’t have access to that museum again any time soon, so the memories created there are valuable and worth capturing.
Selfie sticks are a part of Millennial culture. Madeline Perigaut, an undeclared freshman at UT uses a selfie stick, “to capture higher viewpoints and a wider scope.” Her selfie stick doesn’t elicit a negative response. In fact, she said, “A lot of people get really excited when they see it. At Gasparilla a lot of people who saw me filming would come up, scream “Do it for the GoPro!” and then do something crazy.” Gasparilla is an important part of Tampa culture and the ability to capture a wider scope of the area means that she’s going to be able to remember more of the event when she’s older.
Museums banning selfie sticks have rightfully done so for safety reasons, for both the property and the people at the museum. The ban on selfie sticks was a preventative measure to ensure that the art remains safe, people remain safe and everyone can have their own personal space when viewing the painted selfies of historical artists.
Liv Reeb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.