Selfie Sticks Were Just Banned In This Museum

by Alicia Lu

Museums have long banned a number of things — umbrellas, flash photography, food and beverages — and now they're adding "the worst kind of selfie" to the list. Well, sort of. The Art Institute of Chicago has banned selfie sticks, adding to the growing number of museums who have banned the Bluetooth-equipped device. The museum made sure to emphasize that their objection is with the stick and not the selfie, which is reasonable when you're in a room filled with objects that cost more than your house. While it makes perfect sense for museums to prohibit the ever-polarizing selfie stick, perhaps a few other institutions should put their foot down too.

Selfie sticks not only detract from the museum experience — which, before smartphones, used to be about appreciating the art with your eyes — but they also have the potential to damage the artwork. There's the risk of a phone falling out of the stick's clutches or the stick itself poking a whole through the canvas of a $30 million Rothko. Rebecca Baldwin, director of public affairs at the Art Institute of Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune:

If you come in with one, we ask you to check it. It's one of a list of things we don't let you bring in, like a full-size umbrella, for the same reason.
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However, that's not to say the museum is against solo picture taking. Baldwin went on to explain:

Last summer, Katy Perry came in, posted a selfie, and it went wild. We love selfies. We just think the sticks are potentially dangerous.

But the real question here is — what if Katy Perry came in with a selfie stick? Then what?


The Art Institute of Chicago is not the only museum that's outlawing the selfie stick. Other ones include New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, D.C.'s Smithsonian museums and gardens, and London's National Gallery. The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago allows selfie sticks in the lobby and atrium, but not the actual galleries. Here is a more complete list.

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If the selfie stick's place in the art world is any indication, it definitely gets a bad rap, but is anyone really surprised? It's a tool that enables and perpetuates our increasingly obsession with documenting moments rather than actually experiencing them. And perhaps Seattle resident Curt Milton put it best when he tweeted this:

As more and more museums start enforcing official policies against the selfie stick, here are a few other institutions that should consider doing the same.

  • Restaurants, especially the ones in New York City that can barely fit three people, let alone three people gathered under a selfie stick.
  • Sephora, where the temptation to post selfies of every lip color you try on is overwhelming.
  • Schools, because the combination of youth + boredom + social media = a sea of selfie sticks and chaos.
  • Airplanes, because nobody needs to see your aisle seat and what kind of peanuts you got.
  • Bars, because drunk people and selfie sticks is a dangerous combination.
  • Clothing stores, because if the full-length mirrors aren't enough, then you have a serious problem.
  • Basically anywhere besides concerts and amusement parks, the only places where the selfie stick actually makes sense.

Images: Getty Images (3)