Open Letter

Dear Seattle Art Museum

Um, why did you have to ban selfie sticks?

By Ambyr Tenanbaum April 27, 2015 Published in the May 2015 issue of Seattle Met


So I’d like to register a complaint with whoever decided to ban selfie sticks from your establishment. Recently my friends and I dropped by for one of our monthly girls’ day outings (#grooveisintheart) in which we like to take in a local cultural institution after we partake in the consumption of local spirits. We laugh. We learn. We lean in—literally. Last month Lindsey was trying to get just the right angle for a picture of herself in front of Drumheller Fountain when she fell in.

Lindsey got wet, she lost an earring, and obvi her iPhone 6 was ruined, but you know what? No one tried to stop her from doing what led to her getting wet, losing an earring, and ruining her iPhone 6. (And thank god for that, because Mandy got the whole thing on video, and the Vine had, like, a couple thousand loops by the next day.) You guys, what I’m trying to say is, this is a free country. So who are you to tell me I can’t use an aluminum rod to hold my phone three and a half feet out in front of myself while Lindsey, Mandy, and I carefully mimic the expressions of the people in your paintings? (By the way, there’s a surprising lack of duck face in late-period French impressionism.) I mean, what are we supposed to do, ask someone else to take our picture? That’s like saying Van Gogh should have skipped the self-portrait and asked the rando who hung out in the alley behind his apartment to do it.

Your director of public relations told KOMO that you’re just worried someone could damage one of your pieces. (She also said selfie sticks are obnoxious, which…I can’t even.) You know what I think? I think you’re worried that we’ll upstage your precious pieces. Yeah, I said it: You know we’re hotter than the stuffy ladies in those paintings, with their pasty skin and bad eyebrows. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ And okay, our faces take up most of the frame and the art is usually out of focus, but you’re looking at this all wrong. Between the three of us, we have 800 followers on Instagram, and our pictures blow up. Just last week Mandy snapped a selfie in front of the Hammering Man and posted it with the hashtags #gothammered and #thorwisheshiswasthisbig, and it got more than 200 likes. Do you realize what kind of free advertising you’re missing out on?

But honestly, I think what’s most disappointing about this decision is that you’re being so unoriginal. You waited until the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Palace of Versailles banned selfie sticks before you made a move. (Even the Cleveland Museum of Art beat you to it. Cleveland!) Instead of following, lead. Innovate! Like, have you considered installing a photo booth? Or, better yet, allowing patrons to rent art pieces? Then they could take pictures with the paintings at home and spare you their “obnoxious” behavior. Anyway, the point is an art museum, of all places, shouldn’t stifle selfie-expression. Also, make sure you follow me on Instagram at amazeballs_ambyr.

Sorry not sorry,



Show Comments