photography in a museums

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    • #132881
      Deborah Ormerod

      What are the policies out there about taking pictures inside museums. We have been contacted by a food magazine, wanting to take pictures of our summer kitchen in one of our historical houses.

    • #132885

      I would think it would be okay but be sure you get a copy of each photo they take for your records. If ever there were a misprint about where it came from you could correct the misinformation.
      I would date and put who actually took the photo (photographer) and for what purpose. Also I would ask for a few copies of the magazine they are published in as payment for the privilege of taking the photos.

    • #132884
      Ron Kley

      Existing policies vary widely. Your situation seems to be one in which the photography is of a “commercial” nature, for which museums typically charge a substantial fee. Perhaps more important than fee structure is the fact that commercial photography typically involves equipment more elaborate and bulky than common handheld cameras — equipment whose setup and movement can put collections at risk — and whose very presence can interfere with or prevent enjoyment of your site by ordinary visitors. Camera crews, unless strictly monitored, are frequently inclined to re-arrange a setting to improve camera angles and image composition, and their personnel are seldom trained in the proper handling of collection artifacts. Intense lights that “bake” (and/or fade) collection items pose another predictable problem.

      Be careful; insist upon insurance coverage (with your institution named as co-insured) adequate to cover any conceivable damage; have every action of the camera crew monitored by a staff member with supervisory authority.

      If you care to contact me privately ( I can steer you to a museum that hosts a great many still and video “shoots” and has developed policies and procedures that are about as close to “bulletproof” as you’re apt to find.

      Good luck!

      Ron Kley
      Alonzo Wood Homestead

    • #132883

      Ron’s posting was right on. To clarify the lighting question, you should make it clear that lights have to be far enough away from collection material that they don’t cause any heating. The use of flash only is even better – even though flash lights are bright, the fraction of a second that they are on means that no light damage will occur. In any case, you should make a rule that lights should be turned off when they are not absolutely necessary.

    • #132882

      I concur with Ron’s posting. Also, it is good to keep in mind that large museums and/or cultural institutions do their own high resolution/ professionally executed photography of their collection(s). These are mainly master paintings that frequently visitors could purchase a poster or a postcard in the gift shop and creates a profit for the organization. When visitors take small portable digital cameras and record digital images on their own (as it’s done all the time in museums nowadays all over the world) is hard to monitor and keep track which instititions/ guards allow these pictures and who don’t. A decade ago, I have heard Canadian scientist Stefan Michalski talking about this issue of “photography in museums” and explaining in a training re: light – UV radiation damage on objects course that these measurements are a very specific policy that many museums then follow to make a revenue from their collections rathers than a real threat and/or risk to the paintings (objects) themselves. Hope this will clarify this issue.

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