Photography inside a museum’s art galleries can be a touchy touchy issue. From conservation (yes, repeated “flashing” does damage art over time) to super serious legal matters (most 20th and 21st century art is under copyright by an artist or an estate), the issues surrounding the seemingly simple act of taking a picture are complex and abundant.
But even within the walls of our staid cultural institutions, we need to acknowledge the changing ways we all live within our world, and photography is a big part of that.
For months, SAM has been working hard behind the scenes, to research these issues and study the ways in which other institutions maneuver them. The goal: to pair our mandate to collect, care for and display works of art now and into the distant future with the desire of the public to document their personal experiences.
Today, SAM institutes a new photography policy that is much more lenient than it has been in the past. Photography is permitted in the galleries.
There are a few limitations, of course, all outlined on our website. For instance, some works from outside institutions are loaned to us with the specific caveat that they are not to be photographed. This includes all of our special exhibitions on the fourth floor. We must honor the wishes of our lenders in order to bring these significant, often quite amazing works to the Seattle public.
There’s a little bit more (no flash, no tripod), but we hope that for most of you, the new policy will open up a new way to experience SAM – and bring SAM home with you after a visit. Let us know how it’s working.
-Nicole Chism Griffin, SAM PR