I don't think that people who take pictures of art are trying to steal its beauty. I think that, by and large, they are just trying to create for themselves a keepsake or a memory to hold and to cherish. Some people even need this sort of tangible reminder to enliven their experiences.

I do think that taking flash pictures of art is not cool.

I think the intent behind the photography counts for a lot in whether it should be allowed or not. Some people are definitely camera happy, and any pictures of artwork might just be "Some art I saw at the museum" to them. Or someone could use a camera very little and still have little attachment to the artwork. If taking a picture is taking away from the original, how can we possibly justify holding onto memories, which, for some people, are even more true to the spirit of the artwork?

Stealing the beauty of art by photographing it? If the photography does not physically damage the art, then why is it wrong? Is this another case of an elite trying to keep a rein on how people appreciate art? Personally, I think photographing or reproducing art in some way is a good thing, because it allows more people to see and reach their own idea and interpetation of art than there would be if it was kept in a museum. It brings art to the masses, and allows them to appreciate it on their own, without some authority telling them how it should be viewed. Which is the exact opposite of what too many art historians and scholars think should happen.

Hmmm. I know what I'll do.

I'll take a 4x5 view camera, set it up on a tripod, and take perfect copies (or as close to that as is possible) of photographs by masters of black and white photography like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Robert Mapplethorpe. Then I will make prints of these photographs, so that my prints are indistinguishable from the originals. I'll sign them with my name and sell them as my work. Yep. No one will guess that they are not mine - I'll make a fortune - that's why museums don't allow photography.

</troll>

Seriously, museums have to make money. Admissions do not come close to covering expenses, nor will they ever. They need to create a source of revenue and what they have of value is the art.

The copyright on a 200 year old painting is long expired. But the copyright on a photograph of that painting is still legitimate. So the museum restricts what sort of photographs can be taken. Photographs taken by handheld cameras are allowed, as, with the lighting conditions in the museum, it is impossible to get publication quality photographs with a handheld camera. Photographs taken using tripods are disallowed, as they could be used for publication. By supplying the photographs used for publication, the museum can generate revenue.

Maybe you should be able to get perfect photographs of all the works of art in a museum - you can. For a mere 50 cents, usually, you can get nice postcards of the major works in a museum's collection. This is only slightly more that your snapshot costs you. Or perhaps the museums should not need the money... that would be nice... how about bringing the funding of the National Endowment for the Arts up to 1% of the national budget?

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