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No More Selfie Sticks at All Smithsonian Facilities

A month after the Hirshhorn banned the dumb devices, the rest of the Smithsonian is cracking down.
Original photograph via Shutterstock.

A few weeks after the Hirshhorn Museum outlawed its visitors from bringing in so-called “selfie sticks”—those poles that allow users to extend the range of their phone’s camera when taking a self-portrait”—the rest of the Smithsonian Institution is following suit. The Smithsonian imposed the system-wide ban Wednesday, announcing that the sticks pose physical hazards toward less obnoxious museum patrons and, more important, the many priceless items in its collection.

“For the safety of our visitors and collections, the Smithsonian prohibits the use of tripods or monopods in our museums and gardens,” reads a Smithsonian press release. “Effective today, March 3, monopod selfie sticks are included in this policy. This is a preventive measure to protect visitors and objects, especially during crowded conditions.”

The Smithsonian has had a longstanding ban on visitors bringing in bulky, professional photo equipment like tripods and monopods, but many people read that as excepting selfie sticks. The Hirshhorn banned the sticks last month along with the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum in New York after both galleries noticed the potential nuisance, especially as foot traffic picks up. The Smithsonian recorded more than 30 million visitors in 2013.

While the Smithsonian still encourages visitors to take selfies—except, of course, in art gallery rooms where photography is prohibited—it is separating itself from many of Washington’s other cultural institutions, which openly welcome spectators who want to make it really easy to have their phones snatched. Among the places you can still use a selfie stick:

  • Newseum (which will sell one to you in the lobby)
  • International Spy Museum (which will also sell one to you in the lobby)
  • Outside the White House
  • Inside the White House
Screenshot via BuzzFeed.

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.

Harrison Smith

Harrison Smith (@harrisondsmith on Twitter) has contributed to the Washington Post and Chicago magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]