Fans of the selfie stick include Boris Johnson and Barack Obama, but Parisian museums plan to ban the extendable rods designed for people to take better photos of themselves with mobile phones.
Guards in the Palace of Versailles have started ordering visitors to put away their selfie sticks to avoid potential damage to mirrors, furnishings or works of art. A formal ban is to be introduced within weeks.
The Pompidou Centre, which exhibits modern art, is also “heading towards a ban”, a management spokesman said.
The Louvre is concerned about the increasingly popular gadgets being waved around within inches of the Mona Lisa and other famous paintings that tourists love to use as a backdrop for souvenir shots.
They are not yet banned at the museum, but a spokeswoman said: “Users must follow the rules and not point any objects at paintings, sculptures.”
Peter Greene, 41, a visitor from Birmingham who used a selfie stick to take a family photo with his wife and six-year-old daughter outside the Louvre, said: “I don’t see why anyone should object to them outdoors, but I understand why they might cause problems in confined spaces, especially if they’re as crowded as this place.”
The Musee d’Orsay, which houses the work of the Impressionists, has no need to ban selfie sticks because it already enforces a rule against taking photographs.
A ban in the other main museums in Paris, which attract more than 20 million visitors a year, could have an impact on sales.
It is now common to see a forest of the aluminium poles, which extend to a length of about five feet, sprouting from crowds of museum visitors, especially tour groups.
Selfie sticks are already banned in many sports grounds, including White Hart Lane stadium in London, and at the capital’s O2 music venue, to prevent them obscuring spectators’ view or being used as weapons.
Bans are also in force at Wembley Arena and at Washington’s Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum and research complex.
The list doesn’t stop there. New York’s MOMA and Met museums, along with Washington DC’s National Gallery of art, the Getty Center in LA and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago have all laid down the banhammer. Seattle’s Museum of Art has also ruled them out, but a spokesman said it’s part and parcel of an existing tripod and umbrella ban, put in place to prevent accidental damage. Then she added the zinger that the rest of us were thinking: “There’s also the obnoxious factor.”
Nowhere do the authorities view selfie sticks more unfavourably than in South Korea.
The use or sale of unregistered selfie sticks is illegal and punishable with a fine of more than £17,000 on the grounds that the Bluetooth technology used in some sticks to control the camera remotely could interfere with telecommunications signals.