No Pod, Now No Stick


By Tanya Silverman

Photo courtesy of Michele M. F.

Patrons of The Frick Collection are welcome to marvel in the brilliance of Rembrandt’s stoic Self-Portrait. However, as much as they want to admire the centuries-old oil painting, they are not welcome to snap a self-portrait of themselves with it–and most certainly not by the means of a selfie stick.

Using the portable device designed for digital self-portraiture has recently joined the list of prohibitions of certain behaviors at this NYC art museum: carrying a coat over your arm, checking a camping backpack, bringing children under 10, sitting on the floor. As per the photographic regulation front, The Frick does not allow taking pictures outside its central Garden Court, and disallows videography and tripods (a more traditional camera extension device).

BTR reached out to the MoMA to explain their policy on selfie sticks. A representative responded to explain the museum’s general policy on devices designed for camera extension (beyond just the new stick): “MoMA has always prohibited visitors from using camera extension devices due to concerns for the safety of the works of art on view and to preserve an optimal atmosphere for all visitors.”

The Cooper Hewitt Museum recently re-opened as an innovative and interactive art and design institute. Keeping things current, they installed an Immersion Room where guests can design digital wallpaper, and have plans to provide people a portable Pen device that allows them to collect data on the materials for later study. Selfies are explicitly encouraged at Cooper Hewitt, however, neither selfie sticks nor tripods are allowed.

The Guggenheim. Photo courtesy of Sol Robayo.

The Guggenheim, meanwhile, only allows photography on its ground floor. Unsurprisingly, their recently announced policy regarding the selfie stick echoes that of the tripod: prohibited.

Of course, museums are places where patrons are supposed to behave with certain etiquette. The ongoing banning of the selfie stick has become a viral story because of its viral timing, with one museum taking action after the next. However, considering that these institutions–in NYC and beyond–often forbid tripods and other picture-taking practices, it’s really no surprise that a newer version of camera extension tool is considered improper.