Swapping Selfies for Sketches

Rijksmuseum asks visitors to swap their selfie sticks for pencils and paper.

In today’s world of mobile phones and social media, visiting a museum is often a passive and detached experience. Amsterdam’s art and history museum, The Rijksmuseum, is among a growing number of museums that have banned the use of the selfie stick. Museums say they need to protect their art and their visitors’ personal space, and the intrusive nature of a camera at the end of a telescopic arm is preventing this. Rijksmuseum also wants to address another issue.

The accessibility of pulling your phone out for a quick snap means we are looking at things quickly, fleetingly and superficially. “We are easily distracted: by other people, our own thoughts, a little device vibrating in an inside pocket” says a statement on the museums website. In a ploy to reengage visitors with their surrounds, the museum is giving out free pencils and paper in trade of your selfie stick.

This is in aid of the museum's campaign #startdrawing, which aims to reengage its attendees with the art that surrounds them rather than mindlessly taking photos of or with the art at any opportune moment.

In a statement the museum’s General Director, Wim Pijbes, said: “In our busy lives we don’t always realise how beautiful something can be. We forget how to look really closely. Drawing helps because you see more when you draw.”­

Perhaps what Pijbes said isn’t to exclusive museum visiting, but good practice for every day life.

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