no cameras, please, or phones

I tend to dislike technology in the museum space. I feel like audio guides and computers distract from individual experiences with artworks, because they inform the viewer what to think. I don't mind labels so much, because they often provide merely the title, artist and date. I am not ashamed to admit that people with cameras in museums annoy me - the picture you just took with your camera is not going to do the work justice, and cameras are distracting to everyone around you.
Anyway, with that said, I found this article titled "Apps for MoMa" in the New York Times completely fascinating. I know most people go to museums, especially large museums like the Louvre or the MoMa, to learn about art, and would like an app to help them on their journey. I also know that as an art historian, I am 'an informed viewer,' and I go to museums to interact with artwork on an emotional level, not so much an intellectual level, which happens for me in reading and research. So I see why electronic guides are useful to instruct, but I can't help but want others to experience artwork emotionally and spiritually, without electronic interference. I just don't think a Rothko (or Kandinsky, or Botticelli, or Leonardo) should be approached with a camera in hand. What do you think?


  1. I agree with you about technology and its function in the museum space. I don't even like explanatory text panels- I'm a tombstone (artist, title, date) kind of art historian. I do take cameras with me though, if they are even allowed, but I take pictures of people interacting with the art, not just the art itself. I also love to make videos walking around (and/or through) sculptures. I want to be able to capture the moment of communion, that second where the art bonds with your soul and the whole world pauses around you. If wanted to take a picture of the art- go buy a postcard at the museum store (it's much better quality any how!) LOL

  2. Interesting!
    You know, I think I could take my 8 year old autistic kid into a museum if he had an app like that. With ear buds. He'd be driven crazy by the echoes and quiet hum of a museum. (He goes nuts in sacrament meeting. He does great with the devices for the hearing impaired though.) And he loves technology. And learning.
    I think technology has it's place. For me, I like to view the art as it's meant to be viewed. I like to take my time too.

  3. Interesting thought. I don't mind technology for other people, as long as it isn't interrupting my own experience.

    The Seattle Art Museum just opened a new Picasso show, which displays much of the Musee Picasso collection (the French museum is closed for renovation, and Seattle is one of the lucky cities which gets to host its collection in the meantime.) Anyhow, the curators wrote up text panels for the show, but the Musee Picasso just vetoed the display of the panels on the walls. So, now all wall panels are only available online (or on hand-held electronic devices like iPods within the gallery space). It's the same idea as the MoMA apps that you mentioned. In some ways, I think this is the best of both worlds. People who don't like panels won't have to bother with them, but if people do want to learn more information, it is available.

    I see what you're saying about not wanting electronic devices to infringe upon an experience with the art, but I also think that a lot of people don't know how to have an experience with art (largely because they aren't informed on how to do so). Explanatory panels can help guide people to have a moving experience, and if an app can help people to do that, I'm all for it.

    Honestly, I try not to think much about other people who are in the gallery space with me. I just stare at the art, unless someone is standing in field of vision. Like I said before, if electronic devices don't intrude my personal experience with the art, I'm fine.