Full Version: \"No pictures\" museums
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I'd like to tell you a sad story that happened to me. Last month I've been to Italy and decided to visit Archeological Museum at Aquileia with its nice collection of Roman military tombstones. It was a long trip from Lido di Jesolo to Aquileia since there is no direct connection by train. When I finally reached the museum I was very disappointed by a sign "No pictures". I asked why is it forbidden to make pictures and museum employee said "Sorry, but it's a law". I was very surprised because just a day before I've been to Verona in a very nice Lapidarium Museo Maffeiano and there were no problems with making photos at all!

I'd like to ask everyone to post here a list of museums with Roman collections that you know and where it's forbidden to make pictures.
This indeed is some very irritating behaviour of Italian museums and sites.
In the 90's i asked permission from the sopprintendenza in Rome to take some private pictures on the forum or Palatine wearing my Toga Praetexta. That was not allowed because and this was said to us : We have the sole rights on any photo taken on the forum and Palatine. Ridiculous ! What started out as a nice talk ended in us being followed by the Forum security because we had our Roman clothes with us...

Sadly it is not just Italian museums!

Vindolanda Trust wont allow photographs either (Vindolanda site and Greenhead) and although they do sell post cards of most of the really interesting pieces, it's not always the things you want.

I should add that they were very helpful about the beautiful horse chamfron they have there which I wanted to photograph (they sent me an extract of the last report on it in response to my query) but it is still not the same as a photo.
During my trip to Italy there did not seem to be any consistent policy regarding photos. I understand your frustration. The people in the catacombs were quite upset that I did not read the "no photos" sign that was hidden behind a door. I apologized in Pig Latin, a little French,and everything was fine. Detente sometimes works.(and I got to keep my shots)
There are reasons for everything. Maybe the museum wants to sell postcards or pictures of their collection. Perhaps some items can be damaged by light. Maybe flashes distract other museum-goers.

I don't know the reasons behind a "no pictures" policy, but I do know it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission. :wink:
There's also the question of items on loan, where permission is not given by the owner; this is quite a common condition of loan. If there is a large number of loan items in the gallery, it might be thought easier to have an overall ban then to cover the cases with notices about what you can and can't photograph.
When planning our 'museum-visiting' holidays, I check with the museum to establish it's photo policy. The majority of places with a 'no pictures' policy will usually make an exception if you advise them in advance of your intention to visit, detail the reason for the photos (usually for the purposes of study and reconstruction) and agree to sign their 'non-publication' agreements (which apply to print and electronic media and gets them off the hook for items that are on loan).

Sometimes it also requires a letter/email to whoever happens to be the Director of the local archaeology department, backed up with a reference from a couple of heavy weight academics.

This has allowed me to take photographs at many places where a 'no photo' policy is in place (Dublin, Paphos, Gamla Upsalla and others)...the only place so far that has point-blank refused was Stockholm museum when I wanted to take pictures in the Gold Room....and I think that was because they didn't want anyone getting pics of the security arrangements.
The same thoughts crossed my mind after that fail at Aquileia. Next time I'll first contact with the museum before getting there.

I think it's the UV emitted by the flash which is a problem. If you get lots of people using flash photography it can damage the artefacts over time.
(As Epictetus suggested)

This is what I've been told anyhow
I have heard the same about flashes and I can see this possibly being true for pigments that are organic based. UV light has a way with organic structures. However, I cannot possibly see the problem with stone, marble, etc especially since its white and no color degredation should occur.
Mary Beard recently had a blog post about this.
I do understand the problem for it happened to me and my friend when we went to Aquileia, so as we both had our cameras the security guy did not know which one of us to watch.
I went in one direction while my friend went in another and that is how we both managrd to get our pictures.
Then as you say there were no problems at Verona which we also found.
The British Museum has no problem with photos and flashes, so I doubt the UV from flashes is the issue (do they even use UV in flashes?). You could set up a studio lighting rig there and they'd probably ask if you wanted a cup of tea as it looks like thirsty work. You can definitely go so far as setting up a tripod, as one of the staff told me so, and seemed amused that I felt I needed to ask.

I remember being told (by someone, can't remember who) the museums in the UK with a No Photo policy could be the privately run ones, which rely more heavily on sales for income. It'd be interesting to see if the museums where this policy is in force are, indeed, privately owned and funded, not state run. You might think they're not, but it could turn out to be quite the opposite.

Added: Come to think of it, I'm sure that no photos are allowed at special exhibitions at the BM, which they tend to have in isolated rooms. These would be exhibits on loan.
This is also the policy with a place such as the Roman Vindolanda Trust Museum/ Roman army Museum where they keep a full range of their artifacts and they will sell you a post card but no pic's of your own.
Quote:The British Museum has no problem with photos and flashes, so I doubt the UV from flashes is the issue (do they even use UV in flashes?).

I think it's not so much that UV is used in flashes as it is that there is no particular reason to exclude it, and it is a natural byproduct of most artifical (and non-artificial) light sources. I suspect you might be able to find a special flash or "snap on" filter for your camera, but good luck convincing any security drone of their salutory effects.
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