Archie Bland shows how it's done at the National Gallery

Twitter users called it 'disgusting' - but are they protesting too much?

How would you feel if you went to an art gallery and saw some posing for a quick selfie with the exhibits? Aggrieved? Inspired?  Or just indifferent?

Visitors to New York’s Whitney Museum are about to find out, with the gallery found handing out cards encouraging visitors to take selfies with the exhibits and then post them online with the hashtag #ArtSelfie.

The exercise is part of the museum’s Youth Insights ‘propaganda arm’ (check out their Facebook page for posts that start with the dubious greeting: “HEY TEENS!!”) but when pictures of the cards were posted on Twitter by writer Aaron Krach the response was pretty dire.

Krach himself called them “embarrassing” and “humiliating” while others were equally turned off. “Just unfollowed @whitneymuseum on Instagram for promoting the idea that art (even Koons') is nothing more than selfie props,” wrote a user named Jason House.


However, Krach and co might be fighting a losing battle. The #ArtSelfie hashtag has been going since at least 2012, and although it was originally intended for self portraits captured in reflective artwork (Jeff Koons’s polished Balloon Dogs were the Whitney’s target) it now encompasses a whole range of snaps and is even being made into a book.

And it’s happening in the UK too, with London’s National Gallery giving its 6 million annual visitors the chance to snap away with their smartphones from as of this August.

However, as The Independent found out, just because people can take selfies doesn’t mean they necessarily will. “In the meantime,” wrote Archie Bland, “if you don't like cameras in museums, the solution is simple: don't take one. A punter with an iPhone is no more obtrusive than one with a sketchbook unless you have a chip on your shoulder.”