Stop taking tablets: the new scourge of iPads in galleries

 

The national appetite for art and art spaces seems insatiable. When Tate Modern was unveiled in 2000, two million annual visits were expected; today more than five million visitors a year pour through its Thames-side doors.

The National Gallery and the Natural History Museum each have more than five million visits a year also, and the British Museum topped not only UK cultural attractions, but all UK attractions, with 5.6 million visits in 2012, four years after it first usurped Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Meanwhile provincial museums and galleries can top one million visits, without the benefit of London tourism.

But while it is hard to think of this cultural boom as anything but good news, it brings its own problems. One came to light recently when I attended a briefing about the new home for New York’s distinguished Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2015, the Whitney will move its Rauschenbergs, Ruschas and Rothkos into a stonking new building, designed by Renzo Piano, in the city’s old meat-packing district by the Hudson.

There are echoes of Tate Modern here – a hip institution on a brownfield site, by the river, regenerating an unfashionable space and attracting non-regular gallery-goers; no coincidence, then, that the Whitney’s chief curator is Donna De Salvo (pictured), formerly senior curator at Tate Modern. And the new Whitney should prove at least as popular – but, for this reason, Ms De Salvo told me, she is thinking of introducing a new measure: a ban on using iPads as cameras in the gallery. And she thinks that museums and galleries overall are going to have to take a long hard look at the issue. I agree. These A4-sized devices too often block other visitors’ view of the art.

Of the most visited museums and galleries in Britain, only the National Gallery bans photography outright. Everywhere else photography with personal cameras or phones or tablets, without flash, is commonplace, except in certain exhibitions. But why bother snapping? There are better images on the galleries’ websites and in the gift shops than can be taken with an Apple. And taking a picture of the caption is not the same as making a note. In short, we should experience the art at first hand, and at the scale the artist intended, savouring its texture, its relationship with surrounding artworks. And use the phone to tell someone all about it afterwards.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup