Art Gallery of Ontario mulling ban on selfie sticks
Two tourists use a selfie stick in front of the Louvre Pyramide in Paris, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. (AP / Remy de la Mauviniere)
Published Friday, February 13, 2015 8:18AM EST
Artwork has traditionally been something to appreciate on its own. But with the dawn of the smartphone, some feel the world’s best artwork can only be improved by capturing it in a selfie.
Several U.S. museums have banned the increasingly popular selfie stick in an effort to protect their priceless collections from clumsy tourists, and one of Canada’s largest art galleries is poised to follow suit.
Staff at the Art Gallery of Ontario are currently mulling a ban on selfie sticks, according to AGO spokesperson Andrea-Jo Wilson.
“We anticipate them being banned from gallery spaces like other large objects,” Wilson told CTVNews.ca by email.
The handheld, telescoping extension poles have become popular recently with amateur photographers who want to get a little more background into their selfies. They allow an individual to operate his or her phone from a distance while holding the extension pole at about waist level. That allows the photographer to look more natural in the photo.
Washington’s National Gallery of Art, New York’s Modern Museum of Art and L.A.’s Getty Center have all reportedly banned the selfie stick, adding it to a list of prohibited items that already includes tripods, monopods and large umbrellas. Those museums have yet to add their selfie stick bans to their websites, but the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum names it explicitly.
“Non-commercial photography without flash is welcomed. No tripods or selfie-sticks, please,” says the Cooper Hewitt FAQ page.
That means visitors will have to use their hands to snap photos like these ones with Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night.'
Most art museums ask that admirers maintain a healthy distance from their paintings so as not to accidentally damage them. The AGO, for instance, asks visitors to stay back 1 metre. Museums also typically ban tripods so amateur photographers do not bump the artwork with the unwieldy contraptions. In addition, flash photography is not permitted.
Now, the selfie stick is being lumped in with the tripod at many locations.
But the selfie stick ban is not all-encompassing. A spokesperson for Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum said he does not expect a ban on selfie sticks in the near future, though the ROM has banned tripods as potential tripping hazards.
Selfie sticks are still allowed at Europe’s top museums, including the Louvre in Paris and the National Gallery in London.
And while the selfie stick has been banned at several U.S. museums, President Barack Obama appears to have embraced it at the White House.