Dealing With Customer Misery - Part 2
Incidentally, few of the picture-takers stopped to have a look at the paintings they had just photographed.
This is not only interruptive to the viewing experience, but just plain stupid on the part of museum management. Picture-taking cuts into the sales of postcards, books, reproductions, posters, note cards and tea towels at the museum store—a major source of revenue.
For the record, I never photograph paintings in museums. Not only is it rude to others, but also artworks are the intellectual property of these institutions and I have no right to walk out with any of it.
I do, however, occasionally take photographs of people behaving like jerks in museums.
Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) produced only 37 paintings in his lifetime, and each is breathtaking for its color, composition, draftsmanship, technique and the implied story it tells. Unlike Rembrandt's massive 12' x 14' "Night Watch," Vermeers are small and intimate. They are among the most prized objects in any collection.
The room where three Vermeers were aligned on one wall was mobbed with picture-takers, while guides shouted in myriad languages and gestured—their hands covering the paintings—as they delivered 20-minute lectures to their gaggles of camera-toting followers.
Had I been a member of one of those tour groups, I would have cringed with embarrassment. (Click on the first image in the media player at right to see what I am talking about.)
Viking River Cruises—a Class Act
On our Viking river cruise down the Rhine from Basel to Amsterdam, most shore excursions were included in the price. In our cabin was a pair of small portable rechargeable receivers with earpieces that we carried with us on land tours. Our guide had a microphone and could talk in a quiet conversational tone.
For example, in the cavernous Cologne Cathedral, we could hear the commentary with great clarity without disturbing other visitors who were there to pray or wonder at the overpoweringly magnificent building that took six centuries to complete, was the world's tallest structure for four years (1880-1884) and came within a whisker of being demolished by allied bombs in World War II.