Put Down Your Phone

This weekend I had the amazing opportunity to spend four days exploring Paris. And while I could spend this time to tell you about all the things I’ve seen there, I think people have a pretty good idea of what tourists do in Paris (aka seeing the Eiffel Tower, going inside Notre Dame, crying in the Louvre, getting swindled by a tricky pickpocket, and experiencing the National Museum of Modern Art). Instead, I want to discuss the serious problem that exists in the museums in Paris (and I guess every other museum around the world), and that is, the presence of the smartphone.

Artists, please do not spend your time in a museum taking pictures of all the “famous” pieces you see. Sure, it’s fine to snap a few pictures of Mona Lisa or The Winged Victory of Samothrace, or any other obscure paintings that you find fascinating, but that is not what being in a museum is about. Believe me, whatever photo you take of the artwork will come out pretty poor and will not do the piece justice. Google images exists, so use it. And when you’re in a museum, limit yourself to only a few photos. Instead of rushing around, snapping a picture of every painting you see, soak in the actual experience of being in front of it. Don’t spend the precious (and very little) time you do have with the piece trying to get a good shot of it. Instead, engage with the painting. Do a composition study! Sketch the figures! So much of your art life is looking at and studying replicates of the painting—use this time to actually absorb the artwork and study from the original.

Now, in a wonderful twist of hypocrisy and irony, I will show you the few pictures that I took in the museum.

My point though, is not that you can’t take pictures—just use your smartphone sparingly… There is, however, no reason to ever bring a selfie-stick into a museum… or anywhere else for that matter.

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