Wellington Scoop

Selfies or no selfies at Te Papa?

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Wellington art collectors and commentators Jim and Mary Barr have today discovered Te Papa’s new advertising campaign which is encouraging visitors to “strike a pose and take a selfie.”

They write in their OverTheNet blog:

It looks as though Te Papa has … finally dropped its no-photography-of-artworks policy. Speaking directly to the people on the street, the change has been announced via a poster for a new rehang of the collection. Rita Angus in her Cleopatra self-portrait has been served up to illustrate the snappy taglines: ‘Get in the picture,’ ‘Strike a pose and take a selfie,’ and ‘Share your selfie’.

It’s the marketing department encouraging one and all to up their level of engagement, get into Te Papa, and start snapping. The Metropolitan Museum in New York ran the same campaign back in 2009 with the tag “It’s time we met.” …

Of course in its purest form the selfie encourages people to not look at art – after all the works they photograph are behind them. To paraphrase Barnett Newman (thanks B), ‘art is what you bump into as you back up to take a photo.’ Even Angus might have got a laugh out of that and, if she were in a mood for payback, she could enjoy the fact that the old Te Papa photography policy “You are not allowed to directly photograph, film, video, or otherwise copy any works on display in the Museum … including painting” is still firmly in place on their web site.

But there seems to be more confusion about the advertising message.

A reader was in Te Papa a couple of days ago and saw someone get their head bitten off by a guard for taking a selfie in the new-hang exhibition. Is it possible that the selfie opportunity is only with the poster? Now that would be taking confusing the public with marketing to new levels.

A more recent visitor reports that Te Papa is indeed still enforcing the no-photography rule in its art galleries. If so, it’ll need to print some stickers to clarify the message on its posters.

OTN: Petty report on Te Papa attendances down 1.7%