A recent trip to the Sistine Chapel prompted a Nudge blog reader named David to write us. The museum ushers, he noticed, spend a lot of time barking at visitors about prohibitions on photography in the Chapel. Is there a better way to nudge visitors to keep their cameras and phones down?
The chapel is almost at the end of the Vatican Museum, which contains hundreds of artifacts, paintings, and sculptures that one can spend hours exploring. Visitors are allowed to bring cameras and video cameras into the museum (and about 70% do by my estimate) and take photos and videos of anything contained within – until they get to the Sistine Chapel.
Once at the entrance to the famous chapel, visitors are instructed to keep quiet and take no photos or videos inside. Inside, the chapel lives up to its fame and praise, but every 30-40 seconds a museum worker shouts, “No photo! No video!” I understand the flash may damage the paintings and they sell photos and DVDs in the gift shop, but they don’t sell any with the visitor in them, and those for sale certainly aren’t as re-sizable or sharable as a digital photo. A flash is not needed to take a good photo – there is ample natural light.
For most visitors (I would guess) this is a once-in-a-lifetime journey and to be able to take unlimited photos and videos in the hours of strolling through the museum, then to get to the most famous part and be prohibited from doing so, is at least puzzling. So most don’t obey and click away. Thus the constant “No photo! No video!” shouts by surely-hoarse-by-the-end-of-the-day workers.
Is there something that could nudge people into not taking photos or videos at the Sistine Chapel without the constant reminder that does not deter most? Checking cameras & video equipment into a locker would lead to an awful wait to get into the chapel. I find it ironic that the third rule of the chapel (quiet please) is largely adhered to by the visitors, but broken every 30-40 seconds by the workers in the hopeless attempt to enforce the first two rules!
Or is the nudge really the posting of signs and the issuance of verbal warnings in recognition of the fact that (staff) can’t stop everyone, but can nudge a few percent into not taking them?
David’s (unauthorized, but flash-free) photo of the scene shows visitors pointing and shooting.