Behind the scenes

While we have been away, the selfie has become the fad du jour. What effect will it have when we re-open?


I raise this because Sir Peter Bazalgette, chairman of Britain's Arts Council has proposed an hour a day in which art galleries might ban the taking of photos of oneself standing in front of this or that famous painting.

In saying this he concedes that visitors will certainly be taking selfies the rest of the time. He compares the selfie-free hour to a quiet carriage on a train where loud talking and the use of mobile phones is prohibited - while the rest of the train is a zoo.

The bigger issue of whether photography should be banned altogether is, he says, one that curators have entirely lost. Indeed the UK National Gallery now permits it and in fact encourages the taking and sharing of photos on social media.

There is nothing new about visitors jostling for good positions to see famous paintings in busy art galleries of course - here is the Royal Academy in 1787:


But now they are doing it facing away from the art they have supposedly come to see, walking backwards to get the shot right.

Given that this is not a craze that show any signs of abating, we are going to have to get our own 'selfie policy' well and truly sorted before our grand re-opening next year.

And perhaps a selfie-free hour, or day, is just the answer.

(Sir Peter Bazalegette was interviewd on the radio station LBC and his comments have been widely reported in other media)