SF MOMA Changes Photography Policy, Non-Flash Photography Now Allowed

Self Portrait, MOMA

I just received a fantastic email confirmation from Thea Stein, Marketing and Communications Assistant at the San Francisco Museum for Modern Art (SF MOMA) confirming that effective July 14, 2008 public photography will be allowed at the SF MOMA.

Thea writes:

“It is true; non-flash photography will be allowed in the galleries with the exception of some special exhibitions (e.g. the Frida Kahlo exhibition does not allow photography at all). Let me know if you have any other questions and thanks for contacting me.”

You might recall that earlier this year in April I wrote a post here entitled “More Reasons Why SF MOMA’s Anti-Photography Policy Sucks.”

This is a tremendous and positive step forward by the SF MOMA and represents a huge victory for photographers. The SF MOMA was one of the few SF fine arts institutions that disallowed photography in their galleries. Presently you can take photos at the de Young, the Legion of Honor, the Asian Art Museum and the Oakland Museum of California. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts currently prohibits photography in their galleries. Hopefully this will change soon as well.

Personally I find fine arts museums to be fantastic places to draw inspiration from as a photographer. Not just the art that lives in these museums, but the beautiful architecture that surrounds the art as well.

As much as I love contemporary art, I’ve resisted supporting the SF MOMA in the past. I’ve tried to limit my attendance at the museum to the first Tuesday of each month when admission is free so as not to financially support their past policy, while still being able to enjoy the art. This new decision changes all of that for me. On my next visit to the SF MOMA I will purchase a family membership and begin visiting and photographing this fine museum much more in the future.

This is a positive forward step by the SF MOMA that will help expand their art and collection beyond the walls of their galleries and into the rest of the world. Consistent with what a fine arts museum ought to be about.

Many thanks to the staff and management of the museum for making this policy change.

My SF MOMA collection of images here
My de Young collection of images here
My Metropolitan Museum of Art collection of images here
My Oakland Museum of California collection of images here
My Asian Art Museum collection of Images here
My Getty collection of images here
My Legion of Honor collection of images here

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29 Comments

  1. That’s great news! I’m looking forward to visiting SF MOMA with a camera that I don’t have to hide.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Do you know their policy on tripods? Does any museum allow them?

  3. Thomas Hawk says:

    Anonymous, It would surprise me if they allowed tripods. I don’t know of any museum that allows tripods and most also prohibit backpacks.

    That said, the SF MOMA is a very well lit museum with more than enough ample light in the their galleries to shoot hand held shots without flash.

  4. BWJones says:

    Doh! I was just there last weekend and asked about photography. Was told in no uncertain terms…. “No”. Not allowed. Seems like if I just waited a couple of more weeks….

  5. JeffH says:

    That’s Excellent news! Hopefully your press helped inspire them to rethink their no photography policy.

  6. Bruce Freeman says:

    Thomas, what do you do with your backback at these museums? Most don’t allow you to bring them in. Do you just pick one lens or do you use a man purse :-)?

  7. hvl says:

    Thomas Hawk, the man making the world a better place for photographers. You should become a politician. TH for President.

  8. Matt Bamberg says:

    That’s great news!

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