December 16, 2013

Before you Instagram your next museum visit…

Posted by Dr. Laura Guertin

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, 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!