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Musee d'Orsay
Reuters/Charles Platiau
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Photography is now welcome at Paris’s Musée d’Orsay (but selfie sticks are still banned)

By Adam Epstein

The Musée d’Orsay in Paris has lifted its ban on photography (link in French) after French minister of culture Fleur Pellerin posted to Instagram photos of Bonnard paintings she took at the museum earlier this week.

Home to a preeminent collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings by artists including Van Gogh, Monet, and Renoir, the Musée d’Orsay attracts around 3.5 million tourists per year. It had previously refused to adhere to a non-binding charter adopted last year by the Ministry of Culture and Communication that encouraged visitors to respectfully take photos at museums and monuments around France (link in French). But after publicly defying the museum’s defiance of that charter, Pellerin compelled it to join other French institutions, like the Louvre, in allowing certain types of photography.

Paris’s Musée de l’Orangerie in the Tuileries Gardens joined the Musée d’Orsay in relenting and lifting the photo ban. Selfie sticks, however, are still banned at both museums. They’re allowed at the Louvre—for now.

Pellerin was already a controversial figure in France. In October, she admitted to not having read a book in two years. Some of the country’s cultural elite were outraged, finding it preposterous that the French government’s head of culture was not much of a reader. Her defenders argued that Pellerin, a high-ranking government official and mother, was just being honest about her lack of free time.

Some Twitter users joked that they were surprised Pellerin had time to visit the Musée d’Orsay, given that she doesn’t have time to read books.

Others accused her of exerting privilege that ordinary museum visitors didn’t have, apparently unaware that she and her ministry had been purposefully trying to get the ban lifted. The ban hadn’t stopped some visitors from snapping photos and posting them to social media. But now that it’s lifted, they may do so without worry of getting yelled at.