Monday, February 01, 2010


Photography in museums

During my recent visit to Florida, I went to the Boca Raton Museum of Art and to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, and I’d normally post photos of them, too, as I did with the wetlands. Only, neither of them allow photography inside. The Boca museum has a sculpture garden, but it’s small, and Vizcaya has gardens, and you can, of course, take pictures of the outside of the house. But in both cases, the most interesting stuff is inside.

Now, what are you likely to do when you’re looking around on the Internet and you see some pictures that really appeal to you? I think you’re likely to say, “Ooh, I’d like to go there!”, especially when it’s someplace readily accessible (“Hey, I’ll be in Florida this spring, so I should check that out.”)

Far from being any sort of copyright infringement, quite the opposite of deterring visitors (“I’ve already seen it on the Internet.”), people’s posting of photos is free advertising, which draws visitors to the real thing. In addition to that, it’s my feeling that any sort of museum that’s run by the government or otherwise relies on public money has a responsibility to allow the sort of public use that citizens taking photographs represents.

I’m very happy that many of the museums I frequent — the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, the Smithsonian museums in DC — allow photography. Some (the Guggenheim and the Whitney, for example) don’t. But why not? They all should.

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