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At a Museum? Leave Your Cell Phone Charged Elsewhere

March 19, 2015 | By |

The next time you are at a museum, it’s probably a good idea to just leave your cell phone charged elsewhere.

There are several reasons why people are asked not to take photographs using their cameras or cell phones in museums. The primary concern is preservation of the art, as flash photography can cause significant damage to works of art, especially when it occurs in high volume.

Psychological Science says that tiny camera you’re using to meticulously document your art viewing experience is actually impairing your art memory, not preserving it. Go figure. The study, conducted by Fairfield University’s psychological scientist Linda Henkel, claims that museum goers have worse memories for objects and specific object details when they used a camera to record paintings, archeological relics or historical artifacts on display. It’s a phenomenon Henkel calls the “photo-taking impairment effect,” or as we like to call it, the “it’s not real unless I post it on Instagram” condition.

All psychology aside, here are some reasons that museums would prefer you keep your cell phone charged elsewhere:

  1. Copyright – museum owners and private owners wish to control the distribution of their art
  2. Museum experience – professional artists and owners urge that taking photos gets in the way of appreciating the art and dilutes the experience. Also, patrons looking to get the “money shot” may sometimes get in peoples way, spoiling the museum experience for others
  3. Crowd control – people intent on taking pictures pay little attention to their surroundings, thus causing rowdy crowds and potential injuries to the patrons and to the art.
  4. Harming the art – Taking into consideration that some artwork is hundreds of years old. as absurd as it may sound, old artwork cannot stand up to the exposure to blinding bursts of light, hundreds of times a day
  5. Distraction — People may use their cell phones to make calls or they forget to silence their phones before entering the museum and their phone ringing can disturb people enjoying the art.

So, the next time you visit a museum, enjoy the art and avoid photo taking. In fact, give your cell phone a good charge! Just ask someone at the museum if they have cell phone charging stations.