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Favonius Cornelius

Museum Photography Policies

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Hello again folks! Just spent 10 days in Italia and saw quite a bit of history on my stay. I tried to document as much as I could, since I want to remember it all and share these precious sights with you!

 

A particular question came up for me regarding the best way to preserve artifacts in museums with regard to photography policy. I've seen just about every variation of policy: from absolutely no pictures allowed at all like at the Hadrian's Villa Museum, to pictures without flash photography (my personal favorite) like at the Getty Villa, to any photography allowed as at the Capitoline Museums in Rome (gods I saw too many flashes at the Capitoline Wolf no matter what it's real age!)

 

So my question to you all is what is the most appropriate way to allow or disallow photography in museums?

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So my question to you all is what is the most appropriate way to allow or disallow photography in museums?

 

I guess flash photography shouldn't be allowed wherever there's a chance that the light might fade a painting or tapestry. The Cloisters Museum of New York is very strict (and rightfully so) about not permitting flash photography of its famed Unicorn Hunt tapestries.

 

On the other hand, I don't like it when NO photography at all is permitted. When our Metropolitan Museum of Art had the Hatshepsut exhibit three years ago, photography wasn't permitted. I took pictures on the sly, anyhow. :P I'm even more imperious than the female pharoah.

 

100_0511.jpg

100_0509-1.jpg

 

-- Nephele

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I say, absolutely ban it. I'm not allowed to shout or smoke in a museum either. Why should I have my pleasure spoiled by a bunch of idiots with camera's who seem to prefer taking pictures - as if they are any good at that - instead of looking at the art ?

 

You can buy a good catalogue or postcards at any museum. Most certainly at those who rightly ban all photography. And it must be a very rare work of art if you can't find good pictures of it on the net these days.

 

Formosus

 

http://www.metmuseum.org/special/hatshepsu...lide.asp?item=2 :P

Edited by Formosus Viriustus

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Unfortunately too many museum don't have catalogs or postcards, not even for special exhibitions. Thus the recourse to pictures. But for me flash must never be allowed because their is too much chances that it will damage something.

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So do you all feel it would be appropriate to say that paints and fibers are susceptable to damage from the light of a camera flash, but as for stone, marble, clay and metal, these materials should be resistant enough to light that flashes are unimportant?

 

Another consideration I thought of is that some cameras have a mini laser attached to the camera to help it auto-focus when taking a picture, so even if you don't have a flash this could 'burn' a path into the object as well.

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Salvete Omnes !

 

Bryaxis : If you say so. But I can't remember that ever having been the case. No postcards, yes of course. But no catalogue either ? True, they are often expensive so I only buy those if I think they are really worth it, which isn't al that often. But it took me no more than 15 minutes to find a good picture of that statuette Nephele photographed so poorly. And I'm fairly sure I can find one of that necklace too easily.

 

I wasn't thinking from the works of arts point of view. I have no idea about that. I was thinking purely from my own point of view as one of the few photographically challenged people left.

 

Flash photography should never ever be allowed, whether it damages the art works or not. It causes brain damage. That is all too obvious.

 

I always root for the people who are daring and cunning enough to disobey the rules, if what they do isn't really harmful. Even if the pictures they make are pretty worthless. :P No offence :huh: . And in this case I can see little sense in it.

 

Consider it this way : what are you doing when you are taking a photograph ? You are considering lighting, framing, angles, what it will look like in your album, when you show it to your friends. In short you are doing everything but enjoying the things you came to see. You miss the present in order to preserve it for the future. So why would you even want to ? I think that it is a good thing if in this one case 'they' protect 'us' against ourselves.

 

Valete,

 

Formosus

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So do you all feel it would be appropriate to say that paints and fibers are susceptable to damage from the light of a camera flash, but as for stone, marble, clay and metal, these materials should be resistant enough to light that flashes are unimportant?

 

I really don't know whether flash photography is as harmful to stone, marble, etc. as it is to paints and fibers. I never use a flash in museums anyway, as I know how annoying flashing cameras can be to others. (Cell phones, too, but that's another gripe of mine. I freaking hate, hate, HATE people yakking on cell phones.) Besides, it's not too smart to use a flash if you intend to take pictures on the sly.

 

Yep, Formosus, that pic I took of Hatshepsut came out badly. (It wasn't a statuette -- it was a larger than life size statue of the female pharoah.) I mostly took it just to be contrary.

 

Oh, and I can assure you that I vastly enjoyed the exhibits, both before and after sneaking my few contraband pictures. :P

 

-- Nephele

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Dear Nephele,

 

Yep, Formosus, that pic I took of Hatshepsut came out badly. (It wasn't a statuette -- it was a larger than life size statue of the female pharoah.) I mostly took it just to be contrary.

Of course, why else ?

 

Yep, Formosus, that pic I took of Hatshepsut came out badly. (It wasn't a statuette -- it was a larger than life size statue of the female pharoah.) I mostly took it just to be contrary.

by the way, it is a pharaoh, just thought I'd let you know. ( 95 %, kajing ! )

(just send me your CV and I'll check it out for you.)

 

Oh, and I can assure you that I vastly enjoyed the exhibits, both before and after sneaking my few contraband pictures. :D

That's the key word, isn't it ? Now explain that to those morons with their 75 euro digital camera's who just 'can't get enough of it', and we'll get along just fine.

 

No offense to people who do try to make good pictures and do so without spoiling other people's pleasure. I'm talking about the morons who think that because there is room for a 1000 pictures on their memory card, they just have to take a 1000 pictures, all equally worthless, within the shortest possible amount of time - can't be wasteful with bits and bytes, can we ? And then dump the whole lot on the net, of course. Yeah, there is a severe shortage of third and fourth rate pictures on the net. Only a couple of millions uploaded each hour. *sigh*

 

Formosus II 'The Long-suffering'

Edited by Formosus Viriustus

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Yep, Formosus, that pic I took of Hatshepsut came out badly. (It wasn't a statuette -- it was a larger than life size statue of the female pharoah.) I mostly took it just to be contrary.

by the way, it is a pharaoh, just thought I'd let you know. ( 95 %, kajing ! )

(just send me your CV and I'll check it out for you.)

 

Drat! :D

 

If I should ever apply for the position of pharaoh (not that my avatar of Theda Bara as Cleopatra suggests such aspirations), I'll let you check over my CV first, Formosus.

 

-- Nephele

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I suppose that my own view comes somewhere between those that have been posted already but with a couple of other thoughts which I will start with:

 

In my experience, even if they are trying to abide by any regulations about restricted photographic practices a lot of people seem totally incapable of finding the flash-off controls for their photographic devices; camera's, mobile phones or whatever.

 

Secondly I have encountered some museums over the years where there is only limited material available - or at best only in very limited booklets in a language I can decipher so if I wanted a record of the visit I have ended up needing to take my own photographs.

 

I am unconvinved that even a large number of relatively low-powered lasers would have a major impact on stone artefacts

 

Museums usually need some income to help pay for their upkeep/ new additions to their stock.

 

For these reasons as a general policy I can see the advantage for museums in asking people to buy a 'photography' licence whichn would allow visitors to take photographs more or less where they like. It would bring in a little revenue and usually puts a bit more onus on vistors to abide by restrictions against taking photographs of light sensitive material.

 

This possibly should be coupled witha demonstration area where vistors could 'prove' that they could control their camera's flash.

 

If after all this visitors went ahead and took photographs (especially by flash means) where they shouldn't I would probably still support the use of a large bin for the camera and/or sufficiently heavy weight being applied to offending devices/ digits as appropriate by some of the burlier members of the museum staff ;)

 

Melvadius

Edited by Melvadius

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For these reasons as a general policy I can see the advantage for museums in asking people to buy a 'photography' licence whichn would allow visitors to take photographs more or less where they like. It would bring in a little revenue and usually puts a bit more onus on vistors to abide by restrictions against taking photographs of light sensitive material.

 

It's not just museums that might require the purchase of such a license. Historic Woodlawn Cemetery in New York City's borough of the Bronx requires the purchase of a photography license in order to photograph the mausoleums and tombstones there. Since I'm a member of The Friends of Woodlawn Cemetery, I can photograph free of charge. (I also get a few other perks, such as being able to enter mausoleums ordinarily closed to the public.)

 

I have no objection to privately run institutions (such as Woodlawn Cemetery) boosting their revenue a bit with such photography licenses.

 

But I have to say that it chafes my heinie when public and semi-public institutions that already benefit from taxpayer dollars -- such as New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art -- and which already "request" (read: "strongly insist upon") so-called "donation" admission fees (the Met's is now up to $20 per adult), start dunning us for photography licenses as well.

 

The Met hasn't started charging for photography licenses -- yet. The day they start, is the day I'm going to be pirate photographing there with a vengeance.

 

-- Nephele

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...

<SNIP>I have no objection to privately run institutions (such as Woodlawn Cemetery) boosting their revenue a bit with such photography licenses.

 

But I have to say that it chafes my heinie when public and semi-public institutions that already benefit from taxpayer dollars -- such as New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art -- and which already "request" (read: "strongly insist upon") so-called "donation" admission fees (the Met's is now up to $20 per adult), start dunning us for photography licenses as well.

 

The Met hasn't started charging for photography licenses -- yet. The day they start, is the day I'm going to be pirate photographing there with a vengeance.

 

-- Nephele

 

I would agree that $20 seems excessive, especially for state run museums. My own thoughts were along the lines of something low enough to keep people 'honest' but which also covered basic costs of issuing a licence and brought in a little revenue from visitors not buying guide books for those institutions not heavily subsidised.

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There's another issue involved as well - that of copyright. If you take your own pic in a museum, you own the rights. You use one from a catalogue - even on a personal website, they are entitled to come after you for it. I remember asking one large institution for permission to use a picture of a statue on their grounds. They were delighted to let me do so for a mere 550 euros (which was more than I was being paid for writing the article).

 

Had Nephele published a museum photo of her pharoah here, she would have violated the museum's copyright. She published her own, to which she has the full rights. Personally I always use no flash and a small tripod so that the longer exposure times don't produce blurring. The only museum that didn't allow me to do that, I took the pics anyway, and cheerfully let them throw me out when they finally caught up with me.

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Personally I always use no flash and a small tripod so that the longer exposure times don't produce blurring.

 

Setting up a tripod in full view of the museum's Camera Police... Now that's chutzpah!

 

The only museum that didn't allow me to do that, I took the pics anyway, and cheerfully let them throw me out when they finally caught up with me.

 

Hahahaha! You rebel, you. ;)

 

-- Nephele

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I wouldn't dare to take such kind of risks in Singapore, due to their legendary fine culture (and obviously because photo flash is forbidden in their museums too).

 

Some examples (from THE GUARDIAN 2002):

 

- dropping gum or litter S$1,000 (

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