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Museums Hit with Losses as Selfie-Takers Walk Backwards into Paintings

February 12, 2024 12:53 PM | Anonymous

Reposted from The Telegraph

Selfie-takers are damaging valuable art at museums around the world by walking backwards into paintings and objects, according to specialist insurer Hiscox. Robert Read, head of art and private clients at Hiscox, said that venues are being forced to cover mounting costs from selfie-related accidents when objects are damaged or knocked over.  He said that the “pandemic of selfies” was forcing museums and galleries to install protective barriers and hire enforcers responsible for stopping people about to have an accident. Mr. Read said: “pre-mobile phones people had a sense of what was acceptable and what wasn’t. Now when people have a phone in their hand, it’s as though they have no inhibitions. “It sort of neutralizes what their normal brain function would be in terms of stepping away from something or not putting themselves in danger. “But somehow that feeling of getting a picture means whether it’s damaging a painting or damaging yourself, those barriers no longer seem to exist.” Half of the losses incurred by Hiscox’s art underwriting business are caused by accidental damage, which includes from selfie-takers. In 2017, one careless selfie-taker reportedly destroyed $200,000 (£158,000) of artwork after losing her balance at a Los Angeles-based art exhibition displaying the sculptures of UK-born artist Simon Birch.  

Meanwhile, a pumpkin sculpture by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in her renowned Infinity Mirror Rooms was damaged when a selfie-snapper lost her balance in 2017. The National Gallery in London and the British Museum for years have banned the use of selfie-sticks amid concerns over safety, individual privacy and the overall visitor experience. Mr. Read also warned increasing art vandalism by climate activists and other protest groups could force galleries to introduce “airport style security” and confiscate liquids from visitors.

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