Madrid’s Reina Sofia Has Reversed Its Ban on Taking Photos With Picasso’s Famous ‘Guernica’ in a Bid to Control the Crowds

The museum's new director is hoping the new policy will create a more inclusive environment and encourage young, diverse audiences.

People look at Pablo Picasso's Guernica (1937) at the Reina Sofia Museum. Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images.

Want to get a selfie with one of the greatest masterpieces of modern art? Until now, visitors to Picasso’s Guernica (1937) at the Reina Sofia in Madrid have had such aspirations quashed by eagle-eyed invigilators calling out “NO FOTOS!”

One of the very first actions of the museum’s new director Manuel Segade has been to reverse this ban, which long predates iPhone selfies and has been in place ever since the painting was installed in 1992. The change was introduced discreetly, and came into effect on September 1. Selfie-sticks are still forbidden, as is the use of flash photography, to protect paintings from possible damage.

Picasso’s mammoth, black-and-white canvas conjures the manifold atrocities of the Spanish Civil War, and is one of the most famous paintings of all time. Unsurprisingly, it never fails to draw a crowd and a capacity limit of 70 people had to be imposed on the gallery. Now, museum officials have decided that letting people take a photo might be the best way to reduce the amount of time spent lingering by the work.

“It only takes a few seconds to take a selfie and so the pace of the public will flow more,” a spokesperson told The Times.

Shortly after Segade was announced as the new director of the Reina Sofia in June, he told Artnet News, that he saw “contemporary art as a way of producing social transformation” and was interested in “softening the institutionality of the museum to make it easier for local communities to participate in the program.”

It appears that his new policy on taking pictures of Picasso falls in line with this ethos. Segade told Euronews that he intends “to reach one hundred percent photographic accessibility, especially for a young audience that lives filtered by a screen. I think it is also important to pay attention to their way of approaching reality.”

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