Remember when you couldn’t take pictures at MoMA PS1? You’d try to surreptitiously snag a shot of a great artwork, but the guards would catch you, and they’d chide, “no photos.”

Well those days are over! The museum has quietly gone and changed its photo policy.

The new policy allows visitors to take pictures in the galleries, although there are conditions: only small cameras (we’re not entirely sure how this is defined — do they just mean literally small ones?) and cell phones are OK. The new language reads:

Photography is allowed in the museum. Visitors can use small cameras and cellphone cameras. Flash photography, videography, tripods, and photography for professional purposes are not allowed.

Asked why the museum decided to make this change, MoMA PS1 Director Klaus Biesenbach told Hyperallergic:

Cameras are ubiquitous in daily life because of cell phones and other devices. More pictures are taken than are on display. Today, taking pictures is a participatory way of visiting exhibitions, and we embrace this creative and proactive viewing practice.

So it sounds like the museum is attempting to promote sharing and their presence on social media without losing the ability to manage and control high-quality images. (To their credit, PS1 often deals with artworks that come with strict photography rules themselves.) But as cell phone cameras become increasingly sophisticated, I’m not sure this policy will continue to work the way it’s meant to. It’ll be interesting to see what changes they make next, and how soon. For now, Instagram away.

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Jillian Steinhauer

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art...

2 replies on “You Can Now Take Photos at MoMA PS1”

  1. I’m actually really disappointed about this. I went there today and noticed a huge shift in the way people acted and the ability I had to view work. There wasn’t a moment to look at a piece without someone standing in front of it taking photos, or taking photos of their friends in front of the work. I’ve always enjoyed ps1 for their cerebral approach to not only choosing the work they display but creating an immersive environment to view it, and today it felt more like it’s tourist trap of a parent site MoMA, which I’ve had to stop going to for the same reason. I really hope the policy doesnt stick.

    Also, half the people came in with professional grade SLR cameras and were given full reign to set up their shots, so I’m not really sure what the “small cameras” only rule works.

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