Love them or hate them, selfie sticks are very popular for those who don’t have arms long enough to take a good self portrait with their phone/digital camera. Rather than take a tripod with you and set up the timer on your camera, the small collapsible sticks are easier to use and transport. But, they pose a certain danger to Museums and the artworks and artifacts on display.
Several museums around the world have introduced a ban on selfie sticks. The ban is not a social commentary on the equally loved and loathed sticks that seem to divide popular opinion, but rather a safety mechanism for the collections. There have been unfortunate cases in the past where visitors with tripods have swung around the photography tool and accidentally ripped artworks or knocked over objects, and the selfie stick is seen by some institutions to offer the same threat and has been banned to try and prevent damage before it happens.
There have been a few notable instances of other damage to museums collection items. In 2010 a woman accidentally fell into Pablo Picasso’s The Actor; and in 2006 a man tying his shoelaces slipped and smashed three Qing dynasty vases.
In New Zealand, Te Papa has bravely declared they don’t have a problem with the sticks and their visitors are welcome to use them in the spaces where photography is permitted. As for us, we have a blanket policy of no photography within the galleries, and that includes the sticks.