Oh, Bette Midler, I know your heart was in a good place with that tweet. For those who have other things to do besides read through hundreds of internet comments, then the scoop is this: Actress and singer Bette Midler, our beloved Hocus Pocus star, tweeted a picture of three tweens on their phones at an art museum. The caption read, “What’s wrong with this picture?”
The point she is trying to make is many-fold, and there’s no denying that it is a generational judgement call. Younger generations are widely considered obsessive when it comes to technology, particularly when it comes to being on our phones. Honestly, for a lot of us Millennials and Gen Z’s, this tweet is reminiscent of a high school teacher yelling at the class to put their phones away. I think that trauma is why so many people got up in arms about it last week.
Several comments noted that museums have interactive apps that educate visitors about art pieces. Or those young people could be googling their own searches about the artists. Or, like we all do, they are just simply taking a mental break and checking their messages. Nothing is inherently wrong with the picture. People learn in a myriad of ways, and phones are engaging tools that everyone has, so it comes at no extra cost to the museum. Phones should be out to enjoy as we please—though keep the flash off when taking a picture (which I still forget to check, and sometimes accidently do, and it’s far more embarrassing than it needs to be).
The Louvre has an app that gives close up looks details and information about some of their art. The British Museum has a similar app that also provides audio commentary and tours. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence has an app with virtual tours. The MoMA’s app provides visual descriptions for visitors with sight impairments. The Smithsonian has a myriad of apps to engage with in museums and in the natural world to learn more about our surroundings.
Please leave a comment about what your opinion is about phones in museums. Also, if you know of an app that I did not mention, please note it.