According to the museum’s website, snapping a quick pic of a masterpiece creates “a passive and superficial experience. … Visitors are easily distracted and do not truly experience beauty, magic and wonder.”
Selfie sticks are actually becoming a rare sight in many of the world’s leading art museums. These establishments are banning the increasingly ubiquitous “wand of narcissism,” citing safety concerns.
As Sree Sreenivasan, the chief digital officer at the Met, told the New York Times, “It’s one thing to take a picture at arm’s length, but when it is three times arm’s length, you are invading someone else’s personal space.”
For museums like the Met, the Whitney, and the Art Institute of Chicago, the problem isn’t with the selfie, though — just the stick. In fact, stickless selfies taken in front of famous paintings act as free advertising for museums and are often encouraged.
But the Rijksmuseum wants more from its visitors than a bit of cheap publicity. The #startdrawing initiative is about enhancing your experience of a work of art.
“In our busy lives, we don’t always realize how beautiful something can be,” said Wim Pijbes, the general director of the Rijksmuseum. “We forget how to look really closely. Drawing helps, because you see more when you draw.”
In conjunction with its “Selfies on Paper” exhibit — a collection of some 90 self-portraits done by famous Dutch artists (through March 20, 2016) — museum launched the #startdrawing initiative, which includes Drawing Saturday, when free notebooks and pencils are handed out with admission, and “drawing assignment stations” are set up around the museum.
For those of you looking to brush up on your skills, a drawing school has actually existed on the premises since 1885.
But the #startdrawing initiative isn’t about skills.
According to the museum’s YouTube channel, “This is not about the final result but rather about looking at what you want to draw. … When you do this, you begin to see things you never noticed before. You see proportions, details, lines … you get closer to the artist’s secret.”
And, don’t worry, you can still share your drawing on Instagram — just don’t forget the hashtag!