The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I went to Tate Modern today. I wanted to take a photo of the Soviet propaganda posters room. The attendant wouldn't let me. 'There are postcards of the posters in the shop,' she says (in fact, there weren't). 'But I want a photo of the gallery space, not the individual posters,' I protested. She looked at me blankly. ARGHHHHHHH! Can someone give me one good reason for the prohibition on photos please?


'Annoyed' of Leicester


J said...

Simple answer: They wouldn't let you take photos inside because they have paid someone to shoot and print professional images of the posters, and they need to recoup their money. I think copyright might enter in there as well, and possibly some conservation images, but the first reason is the "real" reason.

If you just needed the image for your personal use, I'd have just started shooting until told to stop. It's more difficult if you want to publish. But email the museum (the exhibit curator, perhaps) - I am certain they would have photographed the gallery space for their own records, and they may be willing to share those images for your research.

Amy said...

Yeah, I know. Just being grumpy (and a tiny bit facetious). If I'd have been feeling a tad more mischievous at the time, I would have said 'Away with you Tate minion, do you know who I am? I'm a MUSEOLOGIST idiot!' ;)

Anna said...

I have had very similar thing happen to me with my school kids when I've given them disposable cameras....I think there is a lot of red tape and in some cases (Mentioning no particular large london based nautically themed museums) there appears to be no getting around it! I suppose I get the copyright reason but they should be flexible when it comes to research which could potentially help them!

Amy said...

I've been thinking abit more about this. If museums are meant to be 'for the people,' why should the general public (especially at the national, publicly-funded museums) be prevented from taking photographs? The argument that it would cut merchandise sales just doesn't cut it; there's an enormous difference between a tourist snapshot and a commercially-produced postcard or glossy catalogue. People will always buy the latter, even if they also choose to take a quick pic in the gallery. Yeah, there might also be some conservation concerns (light levels, etc), but that seems to be becoming less common as a reason for camera bans (when I was younger, that was always the concern). Now it's just money, money, money. And kind of childishly possessive. ARGH! (I'm not a student in the last communist out-post of the University of Leicester for nothing!)

J said...

Oh, I didn't realize Leicester was the last outpost of Communism. Huzzah! Ex-Soviet citizen, dyed-in-the-wool Marxist, and citizen of a rather Socialist country that I am, I appear to have unwittingly chosen a good new home!

Amy said...

Well, yeah, I have it on good authority that that's how a particular department within the University (not mentioning any names) perceives us. They'd better not get wind of my research area - it would only confirm their worst fears. ;)