Selfie sticks banned in some world museums, so what about Australia?

One of our faux pas for this year was the use of selfie sticks in places that just get in the way. We experienced it at an art gallery all too recently, and recently we heard that some galleries and museums around the world have stopped people from using the selfie stick, but what about Australian places?

The New York Times has this week pointed out that quite a few American galleries are removing the right to bring a selfie stick in, with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York one such place to stop the stick, with the massive Smithsonian in Washington DC also stopping the selfie stick because it can affect personal space while also posing a danger to the artworks and exhibits in question.

But what about in Australia?

We checked in with a few of Australia’s known galleries and museums to find out what they were doing about the selfie stick, if anything at all, and found that the selfie stick wasn’t wanted in half of the major places that spoke to us about the issue.

For instance, the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra pointed us to its photography guidelines which told us that we’re all welcome to carry cameras, but that they have to be handheld only, and monopoles and selfie sticks were not prohibited for use at the NGA.

The same is true over at the National Gallery of Victoria, where its Director, Tony Ellwood, tells GadgetGuy that the NGV’s policy was developed for the safety of both people and artworks.

“Visitors are welcome to take photographs with hand-held cameras in non-restricted areas of the Gallery, for personal use,” said Ellwood. “A hand-held camera doesn’t include the use of selfie-sticks, tripods, lights or other equipment.”

So no selfie sticks there, either.


But some places don’t mind if you use one, and others haven’t seen it come up as an issue yet.

Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, now called the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, finds itself in that first group, with Rebekah Waite, the museum’s Communications Manager, telling GadgetGuy that it has “no intention of banning the selfie stick.”

“We like our exhibitions to be as interactive as possible, and appreciate that a big part of that is being able to share your experience with your online networks too,” said Waite. “Photography is welcome in all our exhibitions, but we place a limit on flash photography in some spaces to help conserve our collections, and in some instances, keep live performers safe in the space.”

The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences is one place where the selfie stick is welcome.
The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences is one place where the selfie stick is welcome.

Meanwhile, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Australia falls into that latter category where it doesn’t have an official position on selfie sticks as yet.

According to the MCA’s Claire Johnson, general photography is fine in the MCA without the use of a flash or a tripod, while people with smartphones are encouraged to take photos and share their experiences online with a hashtag of #MCANow.

“If the growing presence of selfie sticks in the Museum were to become an issue – endangering artworks or visitors safety – we would reconsider,” she said by email to GadgetGuy, adding that large objects like large selfie sticks would have to be cloaked because they may harm artworks and visitors.

Ultimately, the use of selfie sticks in a museum or gallery seems to be one of those things that you’d be best checking with the facility on before you take out the stick.

Some places might be fine with it, and others less so, but if you end up taking one out, always be conscious of where you’re holding it and try not to impact the works and exhibits, as well as the experience of other patrons.

UPDATE (February 23): The Art Gallery of NSW has come back to us with its policy, in case you were curious, telling GadgetGuy that “selfie sticks are not currently banned at the Art Gallery of NSW. However, as the protection of artwork and the enjoyment of all visitors is of paramount importance, we are assessing their usage within the Gallery. To date, there has been no incidents involving selfie sticks that have put artwork at risk.” So there you go. Selfie stick away at the AGNSW.