de Young Opening

LineThe de Young museum in Golden Gate Park was open all night Saturday night as part of the grand reopening and I had an opportunity to check it out and shoot it. My photos of the opening are here. My thoughts on the opening? Mixed feelings. Kind of like Sir Larry Wildman going off a cliff in my Maserati.

First, getting there was no easy task. The Bay Bridge was closed this morning so I had to shoot around the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge and over the Golden Gate (of course I had to stop to do a tribute to Aqui doing a tribute to the Hawk shot) and down 19th to Golden Gate Park. I arrived at around 5:00 a.m. figuring that the place would be empty and I could get some cool empty museum shots. NO such luck. The streets outside the de Young were bustling at 5:00 a.m. and there was a line of about 300 people waiting to get in that was not moving. I was pretty determined to get a sunrise shot from the new observation deck so I skipped the line and starting trying emergency exit doors.

Unfortunately all of the emergency exit doors were locked or manned by security guards. I eventually found a fence I could climb that dropped me down into a patio outside where the big evening tent gala for donors was being held from the night before. The bad news was though that a security guard was guarding the tent entrance. As I was sneaking in she caught me and told me that I couldn’t come in that way. I pulled out my tripod and big camera and told her that I was supposed to come this way that I was there to take photos and she waved me by. Whew.

Once inside I made a quick beeline for the observation tower and WHAT? CLOSED? You’ve got to be kidding me. Here I make a drive all the way from the East Bay early a.m. to catch a sunrise from the observation deck and they had it closed until 9:30 a.m. Someone please tell me why, why, why? I may never get another opportunity again to shoot a San Francisco sunrise from that observation deck. Bummer. Someone who obviously hates photography made that decision.

So I then wandered around the museum for a bit and quickly ran into Jonathan Koshi, Caitlin Burke, SFBuckaroo and then SeenyaRita. I kept asking everyone about the observation deck and it definitely appeared to be closed. So we walked around shooting the museum but not without being constantly hassled for the camera. First I was told that tripods were not allowed — although there were plenty of people there using them. So I put my tripod away. Then I was told by a security guard that I couldn’t wear my small back pack. He said I had to either carry it down below like a bag or carry it on only one arm. Ok, whatever. Once the security guard was out of site I kept using the tripod and then put it away for a while. Then the same security guard came back to me and told me that I couldn’t wear my backpack again (so I took it off). Then while I was carrying my backpack another woman security guard five minutes later told me that I couldn’t have a backpack and that I’d need to check it. Here there were hundreds of people around with backpacks and she tells me I’m going to need to check mine. Sheesh. So I told her ok and then went downstairs.

On the plus side it was free to get in (even if I hadn’t kind resorted to creative entry it was free for everyone for the opening). They do have some interesting art there. It was good to see friends. And I think I still came out with a few decent shots.

Oh, and breakfast afterwards was pretty nice too.

On the negative side. I have no idea why they were holding all those people back in line. Admission was free. The closing of the observation tower (for no apparent reason) was a big let down. The security guards were a pain in the ass (yeah, yeah, I know they were just doing their jobs). And there seems to be this hatred of tripods and backpacks there.

It really bothers me when museums don’t allow tripods. They don’t allow tripods for one single reason, they are protectionist with their art. They don’t want you making really high quality high res images of their holdings. This to me is wrong. The de Young is a public museum. It belongs to all of us really. Items in its collection should be allowed to be photographed and shared anywhere online. There are people in China and India and Australia and Africa and Scotland and everywhere else that will never in their life make it to the de Young. Why not let us use tripods and capture and share these high quality images? Most of the collection is in the public domain anyways.

So there it is. The good, the bad and the ugly. I’m sure I’ll be back and I really do think the de Young should give us one real opportunity at some point in the future to shoot/view a sunrise from the observation deck. I’d even be happy to pay up for some donor only special morning opening there to shoot it. All of our money went into building the thing. It’s a public museum for all of us. A sunrise perspective from there would be so stunning and as much as the museum is there to house a collection of art and not for experiences like that per se, they are shorting the citizens of San Francisco by not giving us that opportunity.

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