Why is taking photos banned at many tourist attractions?

From camera flashes damaging paintings, to improving the visitor experience - here's why museums, galleries and landmarks say no to photography

Visitors And Elgin Marbles In The British Museum

Sick of seeing 'no photography' signs when visiting tourist attractions on holiday? Snapping photos to share with your Instagram followers is part of the fun, right? Well it might be frustrating but there are some important reasons why sites around the world, including Westminster Abbey, the Sistine Chapel and Buckingham Palace have a 'no photos' policy.

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Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum, for instance, brought in the ban on photography as it "caused tension between those wishing to photograph and those wishing to view the paintings". Eliminating cameras certainly improves the visitor experience as no-one wants to be dodging selfie sticks while trying to appreciate world-class paintings, but what about those signs in museums about flash photography? While camera flashes are believed to damage artworks, tests have found that smartphones cause little harm - but a gallery in possession of millions of pounds worth of artwork probably prefers not to take the risk.

Then there's the question of security. The Tower of London, for example, prohibits tourists from photographing the Crown Jewels. Allowing cameras near the priceless jewels could attract thieves or terrorists looking to locate and capture visuals of any weaknesses in the alarm system.

Another reason for banning photography is ensuring that tourists continue to visit the gift shop. You're far less likely to purchase a postcard after a trip to the Valley of the Kings if you've captured your own selfies of the impressive site.

That said, not all visitors abide by the 'no photography' rules. We've scrolled through photos on social media to bring you the forbidden Instagram photos from attractions around the world...

Forbidden Instagram photography from around the world

Forbidden Instagram photography from around the world