Art Travel Guide

The End to Banned Photography in Prominent Museums?

Following suit with other major art institutions, the Musee d’Orsay lifted its ban on photography this spring. With roughly 3.5 million visitors in 2014 alone, the museum features a world class collection that includes some of the most well-known Impressionist paintings along with a range of sculptures, photographs and architectural drawings. Starting in 2009, the museum put a ban on all photography. While many other famed art institutions allow visitors to take pictures of their works, the museum held fast in its policy. That is until French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin snapped a pic of a Pierre Bonnard canvas.

Musee d'Orsay lift photo ban

Despite the tight photo policy that the museum held, the culture ministry’s charter on the subject is much more lax – recommending that visitors use their own common sense and don’t endanger any artworks in the process.

How did the world discover Pellerin’s photos? The Culture Minister posted the pictures on Instagram, setting off a social media flurry. The Internet exploded with very public outcries, citing that Pellerin was given special consideration due to her position. In response, the Musee d’Orsay rebuffed the idea that museum photography is only for a select few and immediately dropped their previous ban.

Museum officials noted that a proposal to lift the photography ban has been in the works for some time now. While the policy wasn’t nearing removal, Pellerin’s photography (and subsequent Instagram post) kicked the decision-making into high gear. Directly following the public outcry, the museum officially relaxed their policy on photography of the artwork.

Olympia by Manet Musee d'Orsay

Even though photography is now permitted inside of the Musee d’Orsay, visitors may not use tripods or flashes. Famed for its collection of Impressionist art, the museum’s new policy now allows visitors from around the world to capture the artistic images — whether they are a cultural minster or ordinary art-lover.

We hope that all museums will follow suit and lift this out-dated ban. Photography makes the museum visit much more interactive and leaves a great memory. In addition, with the advent of Social Media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram and the likes the photos taken in the museums attract a social buzz and essentially drive much needed free advertising for the aging museums.

Some museums that I have traveled to and was disappointed to find a museum wide photo ban: Del Prado Museum in Madrid, Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Belvedere Museum in Vienna, Neue Galerie in New York City and many more…

Do you know of Museums that should lift it’s ban of photography? Let us know!

About the Author

Amitai Sasson of is an art world traveler on a mission to seek out the beauty and passion of the art world. As an avid enthusiast of art and oil paintings, he contributes to as Chief editor and writer.