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Ban on selfie sticks in London

March 11, 2015

London's National Gallery and the Versailles Palace outside Paris have joined the growing worldwide ban on the use of selfie sticks. The sticks are used by tourists to take better photos of themselves with their phones.

Touristen mit Selfie-Stick in Paris
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/R. de la Mauviniere

The National Gallery in London, which houses some of Britain's most iconic paintings, and the former royal residence of Versailles, just outside Paris, have announced a ban on visitors using the selfie-sticks.

The National Gallery said on Wednesday they have been categorized as tripods, which are banned "in order to protect paintings, individual privacy and the overall visitor experience." Versailles said the decision was taken also to protect artworks and other visitors.

The sticks act like extendable arms and allow a broader field of vision when taking a photo from a smartphone.

Italy's Colosseum in Rome banned the sticks last month. "The twirling around of hundreds of sticks can become unwittingly dangerous," spokesman Christiano Brughitta said at the time.

The palace of Versailles was the first museum in France to ban the use of selfie sticks and it is expected that The Louvre and the Pompidou centre are likely to follow suit.

The Louvre Museum in Paris is reviewing its policy but expressed concern about the sticks which are being waved within centimeters of priceless artworks. The Pompidou Center, which houses modern art exhibitions, is "heading towards a ban but the decision has not yet been made," its management said. Paris's Musee d'Orsay already prohibits all photography inside the building.

In London, the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square is the only major British museum to ban selfie sticks so far. However, four Premier League football clubs, the O2 and Wembley Arena music and events venues have already banned their use.

"Due to the recent popularity of selfie sticks, the National Gallery preferred to take precautionary measures," a spokeswoman said. Photos without the sticks can still be taken: "Photography is allowed for personal, non-commercial purposes in the National Gallery," according to a statement.

The British Museum is reviewing its policy: "The safety of objects and visitors is paramount to the British Museum and staff will politely inform visitors if the use of any equipment is endangering objects or other people on site," a spokeswoman said.

The Smithsonian museums in Washington banned selfie sticks last week although cameras and pictures are still allowed. Smithsonian officials say this was a preventative measure to protect visitors and museum objects.

In Austria's Albertina museum in Vienna visitors are now asked to check their sticks at the entrance and can not use them inside the museum.

Soccer stadiums in Brazil have also banned the sticks because they can be used as weapons in fights between rival fans. They were also prohibited during the last Carnival parades in Rio de Janeiro.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris heads the current list of the world's top selfie attactions.

jm/rc (AFP, AP, dpa)