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Museums ban selfie sticks because you might put a hole in the art

Written by
Howard Halle

Camera-phones have been something of a scourge at museums, with visitors flocking in front of artworks to snap pictures—and worse, take selfies, as if they were BFFs with, say, a Matisse cut-out. Institutions have been aiding and abetting this phenomenon, which, after all, provides free advertising the minute someone posts their mug on Instagram. Also, museums are starting to track visitors through their phones, another reason for not discouraging their use. But apparently, some selfie addicts have gone too far for some museums’ tastes, thanks to selfie sticks.

Selfie sticks are those pole-like extensions for you camera phone that allow you to fit in more of the background, or include more of your friends, in the picture. The fact that you look ridiculous using one hasn’t deterred their growing popularity. But it’s starting to alarm curators and conservators, since increasing attendance at museums means more crowded conditions, which in turn means some idiot could put a hole through Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. 

MoMA already has a policy in place which restricts photography to hand-held cameras—meaning no tripods or mono-pods—which easily extends to selfie sticks. Other museums have similar proscriptions, which could likewise cover selfie-sticks. Problem solved. Except, of course, for the phones. But here’s some advice: Put the damn thing in your pocket, and, you know, look at the art. Museums shouldn't have to amend their policies because visitors are too obsessed with their phones to respect the classics. Rest assured that capturing your face in front of a famous painting or sculpture does nothing to enhance the piece.

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