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Author Topic: Are Museums Destroying Art?  (Read 35533 times)

Eric Kellerman

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #60 on: August 23, 2012, 10:59:25 am »

Mark Dubovoy's point, when distilled out of his slightly hysterical style of writing, strikes a chord with me – things are not what they were, museums are no longer the province of the visiting highly educated few, and the Great Works must be seen and be shown to have been seen. This tendency to 'democratise' culture is not restricted to museums in an era of mass transport and the internet. Nowadays I am reluctant to visit the great country houses and gardens of Britain because I will be ruthlessly 'educated' if I do. I will have the vast kitchens and bedrooms of some stately home 'interpreted' for me, whether I like it or not. Just see how guidebooks have changed over 50 years.

In the mid-70s, I visited a large house then occupied by an orthopaedic hospital to ask whether I might be allowed into the grounds to photograph one of the most remarkable Victorian gardens in Britain. The Administrator agreed that I might, and in fact took me round. He told me that the garden was constantly being vandalised and there was no money for upkeep. The place was very sad, but it was magnificent just the same. I visited again a few years later, and there was evidence of further deterioration.

Then in the 1990s, the garden was taken over by The National Trust. I took my partner there shortly after it had been restored. Everything was spick and span, the place packed, 'interpretation' everywhere. When I suggested to my partner we might move off the path to a viewpoint I knew was particularly rewarding, I was yelled at by a teenager wearing a National Trust T-shirt - an official, it seemed, whose job it was to keep unruly tourists on the straight and narrow. I cannot tell you how angry I felt, and yet I knew I had no right to. Millions had been sunk into restoring the garden, and those millions must be paid back. This is the literal and figurative price one must pay for the preservation of great art.
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Ben Rubinstein

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Re: Worst researched article ever
« Reply #61 on: August 23, 2012, 11:47:16 am »

So MArk, please give us some source for your allegation that camera flash is harmful to paintings. There is certainly no better way of harming your credibility and destroying an otherwise good article  than by making questionable statements of facts.

Not for the first time.
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Ray

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #62 on: August 23, 2012, 12:12:43 pm »

The issue of whether or not millions of flashes from P&S cameras can harm or fade old paintings is not an 'either/or' issue, but a matter of degree.

It must be obvious that any increase in exposure to light will increase fading. However, the evidence seems to suggest that the additional fading due to millions of camera flashes is not particularly significant. It may be the case that placing a painting in bright daylight for 8 hours is equivalent to 10 million camera flashes.

However, if one wishes to do one's utmost to preserve valuable paintings whilst also making them available for viewing by the public, then flash should be banned, not just because it may have a marginal effect of increasing the fading process, but because it is annoying to other viewers.
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Dohmnuill

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #63 on: August 23, 2012, 09:49:32 pm »

Eric's experience in the National Trust Victorian garden, while not directly involving flash photography, is more to do with the problem of undertrained staff at such 'museums'. He was on the end of some rude prat's poor form and most likely there was no prior direction barring him from his intended course.

I would be fuming, too, particularly if my knowledge of such a venue was likely far greater than the officious guard.

Back to fine art museums/galleries; the problem appears to be more with under-zealous guards who are unwilling to enforce a well-posted direction not to use flash. The crowd quickly catches on when an exemplar is escorted out.

I was last in the Uffizi in 1994. No one was worried as I shot away with my F3, sans flash, and the well regulated crowd did likewise. OK, inbuilt flash is more common now, but on that occasion everyone followed the well-signed directions about flash. After all, they did not want to waste their long wait to get in by being quickly turfed out.

Regulate the numbers, escort out the offenders.
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daws

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #64 on: August 23, 2012, 11:25:10 pm »

Thus, since we currently have no unequivocal scientific evidence that flash photography harms paintings, it is perfectly reasonable to allow priceless paintings to be exposed to ever-increasing amounts of flash photography for the next n decades?

I take it no one here was alive and conscious a half century ago when the tobacco industry was presenting unequivocal scientific evidence that smoking causes no harm to human health, or four decades ago when the automobile industry was presenting unequivocal scientific evidence that wearing seat belts results in no decrease in auto accident industries, or last month when Fox News was presenting unequivocal scientific evidence that global warming does not exist.




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Stidik

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #65 on: August 24, 2012, 12:17:46 am »

I am sorry that my very first post on this site is a little critical, but I think we as a photography community should be trying to open doors and opportunities for photographers, not closing doors.  In my opinion it’s the vastly increased number of visitors to the museums, which have degraded the museum experience, not photographers.  If the Louvre banned all photography there would still be the same extremely large number of visitors to see the Mona Lisa..  A photography ban would not decrease the crowds.

When I visited the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay this past May, I found the experience the same, both venues were way too crowded.  There were 200 + people in one room trying to view the Mona Lisa, a relatively small painting.  200 people with or without cameras make no difference.  It’s too crowded either way. 

I agree with Mark D that the act of people taking photos of themselves or their friends in front of works of art is very distracting.  Tour guides giving lectures in front of works of art are also very distracting.  Both practices should be forbidden by museums along with flash photography.

One solution (suggestion) would be a “responsible photographer” program at museums.  Visitors to museums who want to take photos would need to wait in an additional line once inside the museum, pay an additional fee (2-5 Euros?), have their cameras checked by a museum employee who can be certain that the photographer knows how to disable the flash and any distracting lights which might assist auto focus, and then sign a document agreeing to not use flash, or take photos of themselves, friends, or family.  They would then be issued a photographer’s Badge or perhaps a brightly colored vest, allowing them to take non-flash photography for the day.  Then a much smaller number of visitors would be using their cameras, but photographers like us could continue to photograph “responsibly” in museums.  The extra line, the extra money, the inability to turn off the camera’s flash would all discourage most visitors from using their cameras.  If the program works, then as a photography community we could push to open up more museums to a “responsible photography” program.  Opening more doors to photography would be a good goal for us to achieve.

A couple more things:  children on a school field trip will frequently be a distraction in a museum with or without cameras; and the bullet proof, fire proof, bomb proof glass in front of the Mona Lisa is not coming down if photography is banned in the Louvre.
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dreed

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #66 on: August 24, 2012, 12:26:35 am »

Thus, since we currently have no unequivocal scientific evidence that flash photography harms paintings, it is perfectly reasonable to allow priceless paintings to be exposed to ever-increasing amounts of flash photography for the next n decades?

I take it no one here was alive and conscious a half century ago when the tobacco industry was presenting unequivocal scientific evidence that smoking causes no harm to human health, or four decades ago when the automobile industry was presenting unequivocal scientific evidence that wearing seat belts results in no decrease in auto accident industries, or last month when Fox News was presenting unequivocal scientific evidence that global warming does not exist.


Perhaps you should read some of the links where people have actually made predictions based on the amount of light that flashes claim to output.

Nobody is claiming that there is no impact of flashes. The question is of degree.

For example, the ambient lighting in a museum or art gallery is already doing damage to the pigment, albeit at a very small level.

Stopping flash photography does not stop the damage.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2012, 05:40:01 am by dreed »
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dreed

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #67 on: August 24, 2012, 01:02:37 am »

One solution (suggestion) would be a “responsible photographer” program at museums.  Visitors to museums who want to take photos would need to wait in an additional line once inside the museum, pay an additional fee (2-5 Euros?), have their cameras checked by a museum employee who can be certain that the photographer knows how to disable the flash and any distracting lights which might assist auto focus, and then sign a document agreeing to not use flash, or take photos of themselves, friends, or family.  They would then be issued a photographer’s Badge or perhaps a brightly colored vest, allowing them to take non-flash photography for the day.  Then a much smaller number of visitors would be using their cameras, but photographers like us could continue to photograph “responsibly” in museums.  The extra line, the extra money, the inability to turn off the camera’s flash would all discourage most visitors from using their cameras.  If the program works, then as a photography community we could push to open up more museums to a “responsible photography” program.  Opening more doors to photography would be a good goal for us to achieve.

And what happens when everyone in that group of 200 tourists that is waiting for you says "Why can't I take a photograph and why do I have to wait for him?" When the answer is 2-5 euro, all that you've done is say to those people that the ticket price is now 2-5 euro more because all 200 people that have come here for a once in a lifetime visit want to take the photograph too and that 2-5 euro is not significant.
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Rob C

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #68 on: August 24, 2012, 05:40:10 am »

On a general note: whether or not one agrees with Mark (in this instance I do) he certainly manages to generate a lot of traffic!

Keep it up, señor.

Rob C

stamper

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #69 on: August 24, 2012, 06:03:11 am »

On a general note: whether or not one agrees with Mark (in this instance I do) he certainly manages to generate a lot of traffic!

Keep it up, señor.

Rob C

Jesus, stamper, ever time I think I've misunderstood you, that you are as perfectly normal as I, you trot put another Trotsk and ruin my illusions yet again!

Unquote

Yes Rob you even managed to inject a political slant to the debate. :)

dreed

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #70 on: August 24, 2012, 07:41:27 am »

On a general note: whether or not one agrees with Mark (in this instance I do) he certainly manages to generate a lot of traffic!

Keep it up, señor.

Hence why I likened him to Ken Rockwell (who also writes stuff for the web that has little merit to it but generates locks of attention.)
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #71 on: August 24, 2012, 09:32:17 am »

Hence why I likened him to Ken Rockwell (who also writes stuff for the web that has little merit to it but generates locks of attention.)

Both Ken and Mark write for smart people , i.e., those who understand the context of their writings. That there are tons of fools who do not get it (thus generating the attention) is neither Mark's nor Ken's fault.

petercook80

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #72 on: August 24, 2012, 10:24:48 am »

I must say this has caused far more debate (and more heated) than I would have expected. I read the original article by Mark and thought 'I could not agree more’, I then found all these posts and debate and anger (by some) and I still think the same.
I don’t see how banning flash photography (or Photography) is in any way elitist, you can still come and view the works and run around and shout and get in the way and annoy some people (if that’s what you want to do in a museum) , that really is not being elitist
The meaning of elitist is....
"1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favoured treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.
2.
a. The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class.
b. Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class."

Banning photography elitist, I don’t think so.

Its really all about how people perceive others should behave in a particular public space, I would much prefer museums to be on the quite side and while it would be great if it was only me in a museum I know that’s not possible and numbers of people are something that ebb’s and flows and we cant control so we just have to take it as it comes.

I think far to many have thrown the toys out the pram on this.
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ripgriffith

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #73 on: August 24, 2012, 10:33:24 am »


Stopping flash photography does not stop the damage.
No, but it does, unequivocally, stop whatever damage might be contributed by the flash
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PierreVandevenne

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #74 on: August 24, 2012, 11:48:48 am »

Both Ken and Mark write for smart people , i.e., those who understand the context of their writings. That there are tons of fools who do not get it (thus generating the attention) is neither Mark's nor Ken's fault.

Could be that the context is a bit different this time. We probably expected a Louvre vice-curator to fly to Mark's Summer residence for a private Mona Lisa viewing session.  ;D
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lensfactory

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #75 on: August 24, 2012, 02:27:24 pm »

Thus, since we currently have no unequivocal scientific evidence that flash photography harms paintings, it is perfectly reasonable to allow priceless paintings to be exposed to ever-increasing amounts of flash photography for the next n decades?

I take it no one here was alive and conscious a half century ago when the tobacco industry was presenting unequivocal scientific evidence that smoking causes no harm to human health, or four decades ago when the automobile industry was presenting unequivocal scientific evidence that wearing seat belts results in no decrease in auto accident industries, or last month when Fox News was presenting unequivocal scientific evidence that global warming does not exist.


But that's just it...there IS a lot of scientific evidence debunking this total myth. It has been 'talked into a truth'.

This thread sure brings up a lot of kooky points of view. Overpopulation being the 'problem' etc...Very entertaining.

If I can summarize...I think a bit more objectively.

1>Flashes don't damage artworks.If in some way it can be shown that there is a slight effect, the effect is far less than from the exhalation of methane from a gallery patron's fart. If we really are concerned about that ,then we need to put artworks in a temperature/air/light controlled tomb lined with lead..underground perhaps.
2> Copyright issues are moot. For a popular work, higher res images are freely available on the web, and for obscure works the net effect (vie social media etc.) of a photograph will only help promote the artwork and artist.
3> Crowds can be a nuisance. Popular artworks bring larger crowds, and a lot of class/social restrictions of access to art has evolved in the 21st century as well, so there are more people viewing art than ever.
4> Flashes are a distraction and nuisance. There are a myriad of creative ways to solve/fix this.



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lensfactory

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #76 on: August 24, 2012, 02:39:49 pm »

Oops...hit post by accident

5> Cameras should NOT be banned. I feel very strongly about this. In this age of ever increasing (mostly one -way) surveillance...it behooves us to assert our right to have the freedom to take electronic images of things that interest us. For no more a reason than that we find it interesting. If you don't think this freedom is more and more under threat, I can point to a myriad of startling examples.
6> It is hard to legislate 'manners'. I DO think ,however, that the Museums and Galleries are to blame. Whether it be staff shortages,or whatever....it is nonetheless on THEM to set the tone of environment. This can be done through signage,gentle verbal warnings etc. If you want the kids to behave, just be an authority in a room politely but firmly telling evryone to please keep the noise down for the sake of other patrons. Just watch all the parents get their kids in line...
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Dohmnuill

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #77 on: August 24, 2012, 07:35:39 pm »

Do you daily monitor Ken Rockwell, dreed?   
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Dohmnuill

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #78 on: August 24, 2012, 07:40:45 pm »

I think you're right, Slobodan.  Ken has some joy in his life which irritates the miserable chip-on-shoulder brigade.
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Dohmnuill

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Re: Are Museums Destroying Art?
« Reply #79 on: August 24, 2012, 07:44:04 pm »

Well said, ripgriffith.
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