Museum Etiquette

This past weekend my husband and I went to two different museums. Saturday we went to the Computer History Museum and on Sunday we went to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. Each museum has there own set of rules when you are visiting there facility which is normally listed when you first walk in the door, on a brochure for the museum or when you first walk in the door someone might instruct you what the rules are for their museum.

While at the Computer History Museum I did not encounter anyone that would of been displaying bad museum etiquette but of course at that museum you are manly having a lot computer tech oriented people visiting.

When I first entered the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum they tell you the rules when you buy your ticket which is right before entering the first gallery. While there I was constantly running into people displaying poor museum etiquette ranging from kids to adults. When I first went into the museum they said No Food allowed, No Flash Photography, No Running, No Touching. I think they should of also added Please Turn your Cell Phones to Vibrate and Please Do Not Talk too loud.

No Drinks or Food Allowed: Just as stated no food or drinks at all in the museum and most of the time this includes gum and candy. If any food or drinks gets on the artifacts it could be damaging for the item that is being displayed.

No Touching: Every thing in a museum should be considered hands off unless otherwise said you can touch it. The museum staff do not want their displayed items destroyed and some of these items are thousands of years old making them not replaceable. If you are allowed to touch an item please be gentle with it. My husband and I had went to a terminal that you can use buttons to click on to discover different places in Egypt and wonder through the tombs on a computer screen. These kids walked up to us and kept on saying they wanted to play the game in a whiny voice so my husband and I walked off and of course the adults with the kids did not say any thing to the kids about how they need to wait their turn. As soon as we get off the kids start slamming their fists on the buttons really hard and fast like they are playing a game to the point they sound like they might break the machine. We had to leave the room because it was so distracting while trying to read the info of the different artifact pieces and I noticed other visitors doing the same thing as us. The adults still said nothing to the kids but instead kept on talking to each other.

Cell Phones to Vibrate or Off: I really think this should be a rule in all museums like it is when you go to a movie theater or in a library. People go to museums to learn about the past present or future through paintings, ancient artifacts or for what ever is being displayed in the museum. Cell phones can be really disturbing when they go off especially now a days cause everyone has to have their own special ring tone and it seems like they like to have their ringer at the highest setting they can possibly get it. It is very distracting when you are reading some thing or listening to a presentation and someones cell phone is going off and the person is just letting it ring and ring and ring.

Quiet Please: Honestly I think this one is just common sense while you are in a museum to be respectful of others you should not talk really loud or yell. This happened a lot while in the Egyptian Museum cause people let there kids scream and yell and did nothing about it until a staff member said some thing to them and also some of the adults liked to talk extremely loud especially a few on their cell phones.

No Running: Just as it says no running because you can brake some thing that can never be replaced again. Plus it just makes sense to not run in a building. I saw many staff members telling parents to keep control of their kids that kept on running all over the place.

No Photography or Video: There are many museums that do not want people to take photographs or video of the artifacts that are in their museum. Before taking photographs or video in a museum you should ask first.

No Flash Photography: This is a big rule in a lot of museums because the bright lights can be damaging to the old artifacts and or paintings. The museums know what type of lighting is ok for their displays and the bright light from your camera can destroy what they are trying to preserve. This rule I saw broken a lot while at the museum. I knew before going into the museum I could not use my flash so I had it turned off plus when you first enter the museum the guy at the desk tells you if you have a camera turn off the flash. When it came to people breaking this rule at the museum I was the one that kept on getting in trouble by the staff members cause they would see me with my professional camera equipment and would instantly think I was the one that set off the flash when in fact it was someone else with a tiny little camera that they would hide away really quickly after taking their picture. The staff members would sit there watching me taking pictures after I told them the flash has been off the entire time of being in the museum and when they realized I was not the one flashing then they would leave me alone. Believe me if I was setting off the flash on my camera they would know in a heart beat it was me because I have my SB 600 flash always attached to my camera even when not using it since when ever there is a weight change in my camera it messes me up cause I am not use to the change. Because of the No Flash rule I actually learned a new thing when it comes to photography dealing with Low Light Settings.

Also a lot of museums that allow you to shoot photography do have a rule that you can not sell your work since the display pieces in the museum are privately owned most of the time. I knew this before going into the Egyptian Museum so my photos I took was for me to enjoy since I am interested in Egyptology.

If you go to a museum please read the rules before entering any of the galleries and please be courteous to the other guest and staff members at the museum.

Photo credits: Susan Pettitt.

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August 26, 2008


Dear Susan,
Thank you for posting this very informative blog. A shame that rules of common courtesy must be spelled out for some, and even when these rules are clearly posted some are incapable of comprehending their meaning. A little respect and good behavior goes a long way in being welcome back. Again, thanks for a great blog.

August 26, 2008


Thanks for your comments

Honestly not being allowed to photograph in some places does not bother me and I respect the decision of the museums cause there could be many reasons for them to not want people to photograph the artifacts. I've always respected that rule but even more now after seeing many people breaking the No Flash Rule.

We have many organizations that charge you an extra fee if you want to shoot photography for commercial use but personally I am not big on the fees so if that is the case I do not bother shooting for commercial but for the enjoyment of photography if photography is allowed. Many times the organizations will charge you several hundred dollars and a few even charge you into the thousands and to me that is just too much money if I am wanting to shoot for stock photos.

August 26, 2008


Dear Susan,
Good blog article..We all photographers facing same difficulties which you have narrated in your article. We should represent this difficulties to the various managements/ Administrative offices/ Government etc.

Yes, where is a security question arises we keep respect of such instructions. But I think all photographers should permitted in Arts & Crafts Museums/gallaroies, historic places, palaces. At the most we can pay for camera fees/entrance fees for photography permission.

Prashant Vaidya, Ahmedabad, India.

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