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Museum Wants You To Leave Your Cameras At Home & Draw Instead

By Hanssie on November 24th 2015

An argument could be made supporting the claim that the curse of this generation is that in an effort to stay more connected, we are actually less connected than ever. As we busily doodle on our phones, we are missing the world around us and the present moment. Being so focused on our phones means we are distracted by our surrounds, by life as it passes us by.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam wants to stop this (if only for a few hours) with their new campaign, #startdrawing. Rijksmusuem invites their visitors to leave their cameras and smartphones at home so they can fully appreciate the wonder and beauty of the art in the galleries by drawing what they see. As you approach the Rijksmuseum, a large banner “banning” photography greets its visitors.




The Rijksmuseum writes on their site, “in today’s world of mobile phones and media, a visit to a museum is often a passive and superficial experience. Visitors are easily distracted and do not truly experience beauty, magic and wonder. This is why the Rijksmuseum wants to help visitors discover and appreciate the beauty of art and history through drawing, so #startdrawing!

By encouraging visitors to sketch their own images, the Rijksmuseum hopes people will slow down and focus on the art, see its details, and hopefully, appreciate its beauty. The museum hosts various activiites including Drawing Saturday, where they hand out sketchbooks and pencils for all of their guests and drawing assignments are given throughout the museum. The campaign launched the weekend of October 24th with The Big Draw, an international drawing festival, where all guests were handed drawing supplies and had the opportunity to attend courses to learn how to draw and drawing techniques.


What do you think? Is photography a distraction and does it take away from experiencing the “beauty, magic, and wonder of art?” Do you think drawing helps people appreciate art more?

[Via Bored Panda]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  3. Mark Allen

    I’ve done this and am amazed at how much more vivid the artwork was in my mind’s eye when recalling it later. Sketching the people, as they observe the artwork, is also fun.

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  4. Richard Bremer

    I think it’s a great idea that can help people slow down in this fast paced, superficial world we live in. But, as with everything, people have to really try and participate to actually experience this. Offering awareness and even the means is one thing, getting people to pick up on it is something entirely different.

    On a personal note… I’ll definitly be visiting the Rijksmuseum soon!

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  5. Andre Queree

    Typo in the article: the tag is supposed to be #startdrawing, not #stopdrawing. :)

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  6. Daniel Thullen

    The museum is generally right, particularly with regards to smart phones and tablets. They’re being used as a method to chronicling peoples lives. “Click”. . .been here, “Click” . . .seen that. It is not to admire the art, it is to record having been there. I don’t shoot photographs to record where I’m at as much as to tell the story of what is occurring to the viewer of the photograph whether it be the action on the sports field or the change in colors as Fall marches toward Winter. I’d leave the camera behind when going to a museum or art showing.

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    • Dave Haynie

      Particularly the tablets! Last thing I want is a dozen 10″ panels being held up in front of the thing I want to see. They put lousy cameras in those for a reason! I’m good with tablets not being permissible cameras. I suspect you need special permission to bring in any other photographic tool as annoying, such as a large format camera.

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    • Colin Woods

      Don’t get me started – those things at concerts are the limit. When one goes up in front of me the red mist of rage descends. Its all I can do to refrain from frisbee-ing it across the room.

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    • Dave Haynie

      Between cameras, smartphones, and those stupid tablets, we are literally surrounded by video at events.

      I did an experiment a few years ago… I took my daughter to the Firefly Music Festival (Dover, DE), one of the headerliners was her favorite band that year, The Red Hot Chili Peppers. And I found out, shortly after the show, that they had been offering high quality “bootlegs” of every show they did that year for cheap… like a $10 download. I thought that would be a nice thing to give her.

      Then the experiment… I wonder if anyone shot the concert. Nope… but I did find bits and pieces on YouTube, a few elsewhere. Actually quite a few. So I downloaded everything I could find, dropped it and the high quality track into Sony Vegas, ran PluralEyes for maybe an hour… and well, all but a couple minutes had been caught by random shooters, mostly on phones or cheap P&S cameras… and a pretty trippy video as a result.

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  7. Colin Woods

    Great idea, I have never got the idea of shooting famous artworks. That said, one of my regular sellers in stock-land is of the crowds in front of the Mona Lisa.

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    • Dave Haynie

      Yeah, the people interacting with artwork is fairly interesting. The artwork itself needs to be seen with the eye… Plenty of photos already exist.

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    • Hanssie

      Haha! Thanks for the catch, Dave. My subconcious must’ve been crying out in fear of all the terible grades I got in art class way back when. I do amazing stick figure portraits but anything beyond those, I’m lost.

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  8. Dave Haynie

    Rats! I was in Amsterdam last summer, but sadly, no time for the museums.

    I’ve actually never been all that tempted to shoot photos of famous artwork. I think it does detract from the experience — not everything, all the time, needs to be seen through a screen or viewfinder. It’s also the case that many of the exhibits I’ve seen also discourage or outright ban photography.

    It’s more interesting to me to shoot objects in museums…. I saw a display of very early Martin guitars in New York last year. Shot some of that, but put the camera away for most of the rest of the museum. Outside, Manhattan in the fall itself was plenty interesting to shoot. Though the walk from Penn Station to the Metropolitan Museum of Art — and back — was a bit much, probably should have caught a bus or cab one-way.

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  9. Enzo Scorziello

    While I think this is an amazing idea, sadly its not enough. Most People will still breeze through with only a precursory glance, because there is almost no importance given to the arts anymore. Everyone is an expert or thinks they can become one with very little effort (thanks YouTube). Consequently people now tend to look at things, not with admiration but with the thought that they can produce the same results, forgetting that all the art in museums is the culmination of years of work. It is the same in our field. Buy a decent camera, read a few blogs and how-to’s from the pros and boom…you’re a pro.

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