Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Snapping Photos at the Art Museum

A fellow art teacher recently shared an article about a museum in The Netherlands, which is discouraging taking photos of artwork at museums, and instead is asking people to take the time to draw an artwork to make for a more appreciative experience. It's a wonderful idea, but it isn't for everyone. And it made me think of occasions when I took the time to visit an exhibition, and was denied the simple pleasure of snapping a photo of the memory all for my little old self.

Monet's Waterlilies at Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris, France.

Don't get me wrong, I love sketching! But I also love getting to take a picture of myself with an artwork I've long wished I could see and traveled to get the chance to do so. Unless I'm a professional photographer with the proper equipment and an empty museum or gallery, I don't see why we shouldn't be able to snap a pic. My image is no threat to them, especially if I'm in front of it. Certain works of art are major destinations for me! 

Keith Haring at the Brooklyn Museum, NYC. 

What if I traveled to Disney World or Niagara Falls, or wherever, and was told I could sketch it only? What if I'm not an artist, but appreciate art and have no desire or skill to sketch things? I've also had circumstances where sketching was only allowed in pencil. How does that help me appreciate great color or brush strokes. And how much longer would I need to stand and sketch something than to look at it and take a picture so others can have their opportunity? Like I said, I love to sketch and do sometimes sketch on a museum visit, but having a photograph to celebrate a wonderful memory for me is different and I feel should still be permitted. Especially to share as a blogger. I would think the museums would like the publicity for their exhibits!

For example, here is an exhibit on Italian Futurism I went to at the Guggenheim. No photography allowed. I took a photo in the lobby, the only place I could that had anything to do with the exhibit. 

Futurism Exhibit at the Guggenheim, NYC.

That same day we happened upon a public piece of art on East Houston Street, and guess what, no one denied me a chance to have a go at a photo! Thank you Maya Hayuk!

Maya Hayuk Mural, NYC. 

Which is more memorable and important to me? My record of experiencing the mural of course. It helps me to remember the weather, what I wore, which was Futurism inspired by the way, and for a blogger, this is a great experience to share over signage!

 On a trip to Washington D.C. I captured the pieces that resonated with each of my daughters at the time. My little one loved the childlike nature of this painting and it made her happy. My older daughter loved the painting that made her think about how much she loved her kitties. I think these are wonderful milestones and can look back on the photographs and remember exactly what their thoughts were, and that I was helpful in fostering their appreciation for art and museums.
My younger daughter enjoying La Ronde des Images by Jean Dubuffet,
Smithsonian National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

My older daughter enjoying Woman with a Cat by Auguste Renoir,
Smithsonian National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

And me in front of Alexander Calder mobile in I.M. Pei building,
Smithsonian National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

So what do you think? In the digital age, should we be allowed to take more pictures of the artwork we view in a formal setting or fewer? Does it devalue the works or make them even more important? Do you have a preference as to whether to sketch or snap a photo on a visit to a museum or gallery? Do you have any favorite photos of your art experiences? If you share some with me via email, I will add them to a future feedback post! Be sure to include your name, the artist and/or title of the artwork pictured, and where it was taken.

 You can check out the article inspiration here.