Picture this: You’re admiring a painting at a museum, when suddenly a long, metal rod blocks your view. It’s a selfie stick—a pole-like device that attaches to a smartphone so people can extend their reach to take more flattering selfies. A group is using the gadget to snap a picture in front of the artwork. That’s when a guard approaches and points to a sign. It reads, “No Selfie Sticks Allowed.”
This scenario is playing out in art museums around the world. The popularity of selfie sticks has led many museums, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City to the National Gallery in London, to add selfie sticks to their lists of banned items.
Museum officials worry that visitors wielding selfie sticks could accidently damage priceless works of art. The sticks may even encourage bad manners. Many say that the devices are distracting to other museumgoers. Plus, people too focused on using the sticks to achieve the best photos might miss out on the real purpose of visiting a museum—enjoying the artworks on display.
Not everyone is happy with the museums’ new anti-selfie-stick rules. Some say that selfie sticks are no different from outstretched arms taking regular selfies. And many museum officials agree that selfies are a good thing. People often share their photos on social media sites, which generates free publicity for museums. Taking selfies also helps people build lasting relationships with works of art. Since selfie sticks help people take better selfies, some think they should be allowed.
Though no museums have yet reported any negative incidents linked to selfie sticks, they’re taking preventive measures just in case. What do you think? Should museums allow selfie sticks?
CRAFT AN ARGUMENT
1. Why are some people worried about selfie sticks in art museums?
2. Why might taking selfies be a positive way for viewers to interact with artwork?
3. Should selfie sticks be allowed in museums?