The phenomenon: We were there!

The first time I noticed this phenomenon was a few years ago, in St Peter's Basilica in Rome - a crowd of people standing round Michelangelo's Pieta, taking photos with their cameras and mobile phones. Then last week I saw it again at the Museum of Modern Art (the MOMA) in New York. At first, I wasn't too worried when I saw people photographing the paintings. It was a bit irritating, but that was all. It didn't make me angry. Then the sad truth hit me. Most of the people were taking photos without looking at the paintings themselves. People were pushing me, not because they were trying to get a better view of the art, but because they wanted to make sure that no one blocked their photo. Was it possible that perhaps they were taking the photos so that they could admire the paintings better when they got home? This was very improbable. They were not there to see the paintings, but to take photos to prove that they had been there.

Then it got worse. Now people were taking photos of their partners or friends who were posing next to, or in front of some of the most famous paintings. Neither the photographers nor the person they were photographing had looked at the art itself, although I saw that sometimes they read the label, to make sure that the artist really was famous. At least nobody asked me to take a picture of them together, smiling in front of a Picasso!

I think that photography in museums should be banned, but I also have a less drastic solution. I think that people who want to take a photo of an exhibit should be forced to look at it first, for at least one minute.

Mark the sentences T (true) or F (false).
1 The journalist saw tourists taking photographs of works of art in Rome and New York.
2 When he first saw people taking photos in the MOMA he didn't understand what they were really doing.
3 Then he realised that the photographers were not looking at the paintings.
4 They were taking photos because they wanted to look at the paintings later.
5 Later a couple asked him to take a photo of them in front of a painting.
6 He suggests two possible ways of solving the problem.

The phenomenon: We were there
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Text: Oxford University Press

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