Bans on sketching in museums

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Could be possible to establish a working relationship between a school or instructor and a museum, If a group actively supports a museum via volunteering or other means they could make it easier for artists to be able to sketch. Maybe have some reasonable restrictions to a given day, etc.
If all else fails, go elsewhere to do some sketch studies. Zoos are a good place for it, though it’s always best being able to look at pieces from masters in different mediums.

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Note that the V&A is prohibiting sketching in a special exhibition, not in the museum as a whole. Most of the time when this happens it’s due to either stipulations by lenders of objects in the exhibition or to control traffic flow and crowding in the gallery space. Despite what a lot of people like to think it’s not done to be mean and stuff, although it often comes across as heavy handed. Disclosure: I am a Museum Professional (whatever that is).


Too many art museums these days think of themselves as extensions of the gift shop

I no longer enjoy them for the reason, it’s like a trip to Homedepot…


Yeah when I read that this prohibition applied to a specific showing and not the entire museum my first thought was “flow”.

When my local had a Rodin exhibit there were a couple of pieces that were just placed in spots that made viewing problematic and so anyone standing still there was moved along to facilitate flow. No sketching.


Gotta pay the heat and lights. And compete for the public’s edutainment dollars with movies, concerts, monster truck shows, etc.

I do disagree about the Home Depot comparison; I feel it’s more like a trip to Costco. :wink:


Yes, the place I work for got called out for doing the same thing, right here on BoingBoing! It was definitely due to flow and crowding.

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Costco is up a rung on that ladder, slightly.

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Could someone get by with sketching while walking, as haphazard as that sounds?

Stop raining on my outrage!


Late Stage Capitalism


I’m not aware of any movie houses, concert venues or monster truck rallies that ban sketching either.

Hey, you’d be surprised. Once I got kicked out of a tractor pull for sketching.

I kid of course. My comment was not so much to show that people couldn’t sketch in various other entertainment venues, but rather that museums these days need to move those paying visitors through ticketed special exhibitions, because that’s where the money is.


Didn’t see anyone try. With Rodin I don’t think you would get what you wanted that quickly. Everything that was worth looking at at that exhibit was the detail stuff.

Years ago, I was stopped by a guard at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC when I attempted to sketch a Brancusi with a pen. “Only pencil is allowed,” he said, even though I was more than an arm’s length away from the piece which was also under glass.

Now I carry a pencil and a pen, just in case.


Next up we can start banning writing notes from textbooks. Because copyright.

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The article actually calls that out in the second paragraph!

I took my kids to an MC Escher exhibit here recently because I felt like his work is accessible for them, and can help bridge the gap between realistic expression and more abstract concepts. I had to make reservations for a specific time, and when I got there there were hundreds of people. It was difficult for my children to maneuver close enough to really see the art, and there was no opportunity for them to set their own pace. And forget me having a meaningful conversation with them about what we were seeing or how it was made. If you stood still for a minute, you would be badly jostled. It was terrible.

Never mind about sketching. I saw no one sketching in that exhibit or the entire museum.

I don’t know what the solution is. A traveling exhibit can’t stay forever, and a popular artist like that is going to draw ridiculous crowds.

Oh yeah hey look at that! I only read the excerpt in the BB post because I’m actually at work doing Important Museum Stuff.

Yes, in his original post he notes the typical restrictions but then he goes on to mix up the special exhibition prohibitions with sketching in the museum permanent collection galleries, which AFAIK is both permitted and encouraged by most institutions.

As a former fine arts professional I call bullsh*t on this type of rent-seeking opportunism. It really is all about copyright owners’ right to enter the Gift Shop revenue stream. They would charge you for discussing the show with your friends at the pub afterwards if they could.

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