December 16, 2013
Before you Instagram your next museum visit…
Posted by Dr. Laura Guertin
Do you snap pictures at museums? You might not be remembering as much about your visit as you could http://t.co/3uiVf2mB39
— Smithsonian Magazine (@SmithsonianMag) December 15, 2013
When I had a film camera (“back in the day”), I was selective about what I took photos of during my travels, and how many photos I took. The costs of purchasing film and photo processing held me back from snapping photos of anything and everything. Enter in to my life… the digital camera! I love my digital camera, and I take photos of as much as I can when I travel, especially to museums. All I need is an SD card and backup battery, and I’m ready to go!
For example, in a couple of days I am heading to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City. I’m going to see the exhibition Whales: Giants of the Deep, which is closing in a few weeks.
Why will I take over 100 photos of just this exhibit? As the exhibit is closing, I will not have a chance to see the displays again (and I take pictures of the displays and the signage, so I remember the supporting content with what I view). I also teach an introductory-level oceanography course, and I’m sure I will be able to use some of this content and the images in the course. Since I “may” see something in this exhibit that I “might” share with my students, it is worth it to me to grab as many photos as I can.
But this article posted on Smithsonian.com, which addresses a LiveScience article, says I might be hurting my own learning by taking so many pictures! Although I won’t be taking the same survey that the students did in the LiveScience article, I will be thinking twice about how I spend my time in the Whales exhibit – if I am zipping right through or using photos to supplement my museum experience. I encourage you to read the article yourself and think about your own photo practices.
But, I will say that at the museum, I’m going to head over to the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life and take a photo and say hello to @NatHistoryWhale!
Update on the Whales exhibit – unfortunately, flash photography was not allowed! I guess I didn’t have to worry about disconnecting from what I was looking at – clearly, I could not get distracted by taking pictures. So I am disappointed – no photos of whale skulls or skeletons to share, not even photos online by the museum. Sorry, students!
[…] Photography contests are growing in popularity on Instagram. In 2012, National Geographic Channel hosted the Untamed America nature photography contest on Instagram. Earlier this year, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) designed an Instagram photography contest themed on raising awareness about plastic litter. Perhaps we can expand beyond creating contests on Instagram and use this tool with our own students for documenting work on field sites or for capturing visits to museums (see Weilenmann et al., 2013) – although, I have blogged previously a cautionary note Before you Instagram your next museum visit…. […]