Museum Selfies

January 22, 2014


Hands up how many of you have ever taken a “Selfie”? Although taking photographs of yourself is nothing new – the earliest known Selfie dates back to 1839* – snapping pictures of yourself in a mirror or at arm’s length has become increasingly popular. The Oxford English Dictionary named “Selfie” as Word of the Year for 2013, and it also took home the title as Word of the Year in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Word of the Year Selfie

I’ve written before about the phenomenon of people posing to have their photographs taken with artworks in museums, but thanks to the advancement of digital and mobile technology, the Selfie craze has taken this to a whole new level. No longer do you need to rely on someone else snapping a shot of you with your favourite van Gogh, you can just whip out your smartphone and take the photo yourself. Your Selfie.

Almost a year ago, the lovely Alli Burness, a fellow ‘Museum Pilgrim’ currently traveling the world to visit and write about museums (on a side note, how cool is that?!), started the ‘Museum Selfie‘ project on Tumblr. Here she asks the question “Has art become wallpaper for selfies?” and anyone is welcome to submit their own museum Selfies. Having browsed through the project archive, some people are being really creative.


‘Museum Selfies’ project on Tumblr (screenshot)


Many museums themselves are also embracing the phenomenon of the Museum Selfie, such as the Horniman Museum in London, which has created a “Selfies with the walrus” board on Pinterest. And taking the whole Museum Selfie  project one step further, today has been proclaimed ‘Museum Selfie Day’ on Twitter, co-ordinated by @CultureThemes. Lots of museums are jumping in on the action, and museum visitors around the world are sharing their #MuseumSelfie pictures. The Guardian’s Culture Professionals Network has even said they’ll publish a gallery with some of the best.

I don’t really take many pictures of myself, let alone selfies – I’m usually too busy taking pictures of the museums themselves – but after digging around in my archives I did find these two from the late night events at the National Museum of Scotland :)

museum selfies preview

*Source: Wikipedia

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