For years the National Gallery has been doing all it could to prevent damage to the paintings and one of the things that was near the top of the list was preventing members of the public from taking their own pictures. Prints and postcards are on sale, but this did not prevent thousands of visitors a year from taking their own photograph.
It has now been realized that the staff are not able to prevent this from happening and rather than increase the number of people looking out for the amateur photographers it has been agreed that they can know snap away and take all the pictures that they want on their smart phones or tablets.
Part of the problem has been the fact that staff could not always tell who was taking a photograph and who was carrying out a bit of research about the painting. The Gallery was putting itself in a little bit of a difficult position as they had ben encourage people to connect with them via social media – even providing free wifi for visitors – so it is hard for them to invite people in and then limit their ability to enjoy the exhibits.
The news is welcomed as it now means that the National Gallery is working in the same way as the rest of the British museums and galleries as they already have lifted any bans. It has been specified that when it comes to visiting exhibitions there is a problem with copyright so cameras will still be banned.
The intention is to allow visitors to feel more a part of the exhibitions and also to allow them to spread the word about what is on offer. A statement by a spokesman has explained the change of heart and emphasized the fact that it is only permanent exhibits that can be photographed.
The new rules came in at the end of July, but there has not been a great deal of publicity surrounding the change. Due to the age and condition of many of the painting, there will still be a ban on flash photography and they must be taken in such a way that they will not get in the way of other visitors and hold up the flow of people walking through. As a result tripods are banned and it will just be hand held devices that are allowed.
Visitors today will be made aware of the changes in the same quiet way they have been told for weeks.