Is @CuratorialCats a victim or a perpetrator in this #museumselfie crime? (via @CuratorialCats)

Is @CuratorialCats a victim or a perpetrator in the #museumselfie crime? (via CuratorialCats/Twitter)

What have we done to deserve this? Today is a day that will forever be remembered as a plague on our social media feeds, a moment that ruptured our visual culture with a barrage of grainy images of people the world over visiting museums. At this moment of crisis we reflect on the vanity of sharing, the mental distress of discovering that most people take terrible photos, the tendency of mortals to stylize our foibles with crappy filters, the penetration of our august institutions by selfie sticks, and the sad fate of artworks that are being used and abused through no fault of their own.

The sites of infection. (via

The sites of infection (via

It was once fun to take selfies in front of art, but no longer — the act has become meaningless, if it ever even had meaning. Even writer Brian Droitcour, who first popularized the term #artselfie in a piece for the DIS art collective’s publication, wrote a 140-character mea culpa in response to this monstrous turn of events. Your place in hell is most certainly guaranteed, Brian. Take a selfie when you get there!

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We sit here helpless in front of our screens, numb to the barrage and unsure of its outcome. Pixels come and go, but these feel more intense, like they are burning themselves into our retinas — you cannot un-see them. Ever. No one is safe. Cats have been drafted into the chaos, so have rubber duckies, and even the Manchester United mascot. Pop culture vultures are picking over the carcass of our artistic heritage, and soon nothing will be left.

Over five hours ago, @mardixon of @MuseumSelfieDay, the official ringleader of this vast criminal enterprise, reported that the #MuseumSelfie hashtag had already received 43 million impressions and over 6,500 tweets from more than 3,700 accounts — and all this before most of the Americas awoke. What will become of this social media hippogriff that combines our venerable temples of art and the Ouroboros selfie cycle? Even Sylvester Stallone can’t save us in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Taking photos with art may never be the same. I plead with you to resist the urge. #NoMuseumSelfie

Here are some of the day’s most remorseless criminals:

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We must admit, we went a bit mad this #MuseumSelfie Day! #rcc #researchandculturalcollections


A photo posted by Research &Cultural Collections (@researchandculturalcollections) on

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Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.