Selfie sticks embraced by Canadian Museum of Nature

While the National Gallery of Canada has banned the use of selfie sticks, the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa is openly embracing the latest expression of human nature. Here, each explains their position.

National Gallery of Canada has banned devices for fear of damaging exhibits

Selfie sticks, expandable rods that allow users to hold their cellphones a few feet away, making it easy to take your own wide-angled self-portraits or group shots. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

While the National Gallery of Canada has banned the use of selfie sticks, the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa is openly embracing the latest expression of human nature.

The selfie stick — dubbed by critics as "the wand of narcissism" — are arms-length devices that attach to mobile phones and allow people to take self-portraits from further away.

But earlier this month, prominent American and European cultural institutions like the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and Britain's National Gallery in London banned the devices for fear of damaging artworks or injuring other visitors.

The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa has taken a similar stance. The art gallery already bans professional photography equipment like tripods and monopods for fear someone could damage one of its art works, and has included selfie sticks in that larger ban.

But Canadian Museum of Nature marketing director John Swettenham said his museum embraces and even encourages the trend.

"Primarily we want folks to be able to share their experience," Swettenham told CBC Radio's All in a Day host Alan Neal.

"Think about us as a species when you look at a dinosaur that is 65 million years old or a rock that's 4.2 billion years old, you are in the story and if there's a way in the moment that you can share that, that's great."

Swettenham said since most of the museum's exhibits are behind glass — and the dinosaur bones are rock-hard and sturdy — they are not as concerned about damage as other museums.

But he said museum attendees still need to make sure they are considerate to other visitors.

As for the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum, both of those institutions refused to take a stance just yet. They told CBC News they are going to wait and see what happens during the peak tourist season this summer, and make a decision based on that experience.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.