London's National Gallery bans selfie sticks

LONDON (AFP) - London's National Gallery has banned selfie sticks, it said Wednesday, following the lead of museums around the world alarmed by the possible hazards to visitors and artworks.

"Due to the recent popularity of selfie sticks, the National Gallery preferred to take precautionary measures," a spokeswoman told AFP.

Selfie sticks, the hugely popular extending rods onto which a smartphone or camera can be fitted to provide a better angle for a self-portrait, are classed as tripods under the National Gallery's rules.

"Photography is allowed for personal, non-commercial purposes in the National Gallery," the institution said in a statement.

"However there are a few exceptions in order to protect paintings, copyright of loans, individual privacy and the overall visitor experience.

"Therefore the use of flash and tripods is not permitted."

The gallery becomes the first major London museum to ban the devices, but follows the lead of the Smithsonian in Washington, the MOMA in New York, and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. In Paris, the Palace of Versailles and the Pompidou Centre have both said they are considering similar moves.

Selfie sticks are welcome elsewhere in London, although the British Museum, home to some of the world's greatest culture treasures, said it was reviewing its policy.

"The safety of objects and visitors is paramount to the British Museum and staff will politely inform visitors if the use of any equipment is endangering objects or other people on site," a spokeswoman said.