Started by London blogger Mar Dixon, the Museum Selfie Day trend has gone worldwide and spawned a plethora of creative posts on social media ever since. Museums, archaic by nature, have always moved slowly to adopt new rules. Their “no photography” signs were implemented to discourage flash pictures, which degrade the quality of conserved works. But in today’s world of high-sensitivity smartphone cameras, many more museums are relaxing their rules on photography in an effort to encourage more engagement with the public. Museum Selfie Day on January 21 is the perfect opportunity for people to get creative.
Museum Selfie Day timeline
First selfie camera in a phone
The Sony Ericsson Z101 mobile phone first introduced the concept of the front-facing camera.
Artist reveals what the left hand is doing
Italian media artist Alberto Frigo started taking pictures of every object his right hand uses.
First Internet Selfie
An Australian doctor posted a photograph of his face with a punctured bottom lip after falling over, drunk, saying he apologized for the quality, it was a “selfie”.
Robert Cornelius, an American pioneer in photography, took the first ever photographic self-portrait.
Museum Selfie Day Activities
Pick a museum that is out of your comfort zone
We’re big fans of the classic museums that all of us have been too, but don’t forget the other 35,000 museums in America. That’s more than double the 17,500 museums that were open in the 1990's. It's a testament to the curators and dedicated museum staff all over the country who keep the things going. Make a genuine discovery with a museum you haven't been to yet.
Take a museum selfie
Admittedly this is a pretty out-there idea for celebrating National Museum Selfie day, but we’re going to run with it. Remember lighting. Remember to be creative. And of course, darling, remember your best angles. Hashtag it with the name of the day, and get that sucker online, because a selfie isn’t a selfie if nobody is there to witness it on social media. This is philosophical. You’ll understand it in due course, my child.
Check out the best museum selfies from all over the world
Major media has been tracking the evolution of Museum Selfie Day since it started, and that means if you take a really good one there’s a good chance you might even make it on CNN’s website. Some of the pictures are so good that at some point, there may have to be a museum of museum selfies, in which you could take a selfie, and then post THAT online—leading to a museum of museums of museum selfies. Again, it’s philosophical. But museums are intended to broaden our minds!
Why We Love Museum Selfie Day
It’s an opportunity to be creative
Whether you’re posing with your favorite dinosaur skeleton or Photoshopping yourself into a famous painting—whether you're making light of a serious topic or making serious with a light one—there are only a few museums in the world where taking a selfie really is inappropriate. We really like the “selfies” where people pretend that an exhibit of, say, William Shakespeare, took the picture themselves.
It brings museums to life
But not like that Ben Stiller movie, “Night of the Museum.” Exploring a museum with social media in mind gives you the opportunity to connect to its exhibits with your friends and networks. It gives the exhibits themselves broader reach rather than being stuck in time. Mark Zuckerberg has often spoken about the desire for Facebook to connect people to things broader than themselves—this is a perfect example of how you can use it to do that.
Cameras are getting better all the time
Smartphone cameras are able to function in the most challenging photographic circumstances. Areas where it might once have been too dark to take a selfie, or too difficult to carry a camera, are opened as possible areas to explore. As the technology improves, and don’t forget video selfies, slow-motion selfies, and all the other kinds of filtered selfies available. We can all do something new and unique with our valuable cultural history.