Monday, 24 March 2014


It never rains but it pours. After ranting last week about photography in museums, here's another chance, courtesy of The Art Newspaper. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has reintroduced its photography ban, due to complaints from non-photographing visitors and because photo-restrictions from loan institutions were hard to police.

I have some sympathy here - one of the reasons cited for reintroducing the ban is visitors' frustration with people taking photos of themselves and their friends in front of the artwork. In a thronged gallery, that would get up my nose too. And I admire the Van Gogh Museum for trialling something and then making a decision based on visitor actions and reactions. TAN surveys the photo policies of the world's ten busiest museums in the article and finds a range of approaches, from the Tate's stance that photography "opens up possibilities of dialogue and engagement" to London's National Gallery's opinion that it "could spoil the visitor’s enjoyment of the art".

All of which makes me realise that photography policies aren't just an issue of visitor service, artist's wishes and copyright. They're about how you brand yourself and the kind of institution you promote yourself as being.

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