Trafalgar Square gallery joins Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim in banning gadgets, while British Museum considers similar move
The National Gallery in London has joined some of the world’s most renowned museums in banning visitors from using selfie sticks, while the British Museum said it was considering a similar move.
The gallery announced it would use an existing ban on photography with tripods to ban the popular devices, which enable users to hold their smartphone or camera at a distance and take pictures of themselves and their friends.
A spokeswoman for the National Gallery said staff had been told to help enforce the ban.
She said: “Photography is allowed for personal, non-commercial purposes in the National Gallery – however, there are a few exceptions in order to protect paintings, copyright of loans, individual privacy and the overall visitor experience. Therefore the use of flash and tripods is not permitted.
“Our gallery assistants and visitor-facing staff are fully briefed and instructed to ensure we are striking the correct balance between visitor experience and the security and safety of works on display.”
Similar attempts to banish selfie sticks from galleries have already been imposed at some of New York’s best know art collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim and the Frick. Bans have also been reported at museums in Canada and Australia.
The British Museum said it was reviewing its policy. “The safety of objects and visitors is paramount to the British Museum, and staff will politely inform visitors if the use of any equipment is endangering objects or other people on site,” a spokeswoman said.
But the museum community appears divided on the issue. The Tate said it was relaxed about the use of selfie sticks at its galleries in London, Liverpool and St Ives.
“Tate allows the use of selfie sticks provided that users respect fellow visitors and adhere to Tate’s photography policy,” it said in a statement.
And the National Portrait Gallery said it had no plans to follow its Trafalgar Square neighbour in imposing a ban.
A spokesman said: “At the National Portrait Gallery we are aware that some of our visitors use selfie sticks. It is important that all our visitors enjoy their experience at the gallery and anything that may prove disruptive is reviewed on an ongoing basis.”
Selfie sticks are also still permitted at the Louvre in Paris.
The online retailer Amazon reported a threefold increase in sales of selfie sticks in only three months between September and November last year.
This article was written by Matthew Weaver, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 11th March 2015 12.21 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010