Friday, February 19, 2010

Nefertiti photo ban

Earth Times

I was surprised, when I read this, that the museum had had a policy of permitting photographs. Apart from the dangers of flash I would have thought that for logistical reasons alone photography would have been banned simply because people taking picutres usually slows up visitor flow around certain exhibits. The problem with people ignoring the restrictions on flash is infuriating. If they don't know how to turn the automatic flash off then they quite simply shouldn't use the camera where flash is banned.

Berlin has banned tourists taking photographs of Queen Nefertiti, amid fears that camera flashes may spoil pigments painted on the limestone and plaster bust, a museum spokeswoman said Thursday. The sculpture in the Neues Museum featuring a delicate skin-tan and perfect eye makeup that make the 3,500-year-old figure look like a contemporary woman, is one of the city's top tourist draws.

The spokeswoman said the previous policy, allowing photographs if the flash was turned off, was changed several weeks ago, "because most visitors were not obeying the ban on flash."


Mercury said...

This issue with pigmented artifacts [and paintings] being subjected to an electronic flash is muddled and needs to be clarified scientifically and an understanding of museum protocol and policy. It is a myth that modern flash units are destructive and such museum policies on restriction or elimination of said electronic devices is scientifically unfounded and was probably and extension of a ban when artificial illumination [flash bulbs and even the old magnesium bar] was used. More than likely, the current ban of photographic devices is focused on crowd control and copyright...move 'em in, move 'em out, move 'em towards the gift shop--a sound economic philosophy for the museum. Just some superficial physics here. Modern electronic flashes are xenon tubes [a sealed glass container filled with xenon gas] which will "flash" [discharge] when a sufficient charge [current] [thousands of volts supplied by a capacitor] utilizes free electrons of the ionized xenon. The flash with a reflector produces an optimal film exposure [film rating ASA {ISO}at 100 at f8 at 3 meters] for most amateur cameras and for xenon, the gas has a UV factor of 6,000k [close to sunlight] for an extremely short duration during exposure. I can provide more detailed information regarding lux seconds, foot candles, and Joules as an explanation of the minimal effect, if any, on the use of electronic flashes.

[It is my understanding that deterioration of pigmented artifacts (especially textiles) is more attributed to the free radicals of the chemical constituents of the dyes rather than UV exposure.]

Andie said...

Hi David. Good to hear from you. At the time of writing flash photography is still permitted in the British Museum, but it is slightly counter productive when used to take photos in glass cabinets, as all photos taken with flash have a huge reflected light burst in them.

Mercury said...

Indeed, those pesky glass [and some are UV Plexiglass] enclosures are a nuisance but it does protect the objects from wandering hands and accidents and in some instances provides an atmosphere of preservation usually involving ancient wooden objects where correct humidity percentages are crucial. Thus, the gift shop yielding museum quality photographs in books and postcards. Nevertheless, there is little concern regarding modern flash equipment...and the fuss is unfounded.