People Can Finally Photograph Picasso’s Famous ‘Guernica’ Painting

A crowd of people is seen viewing Pablo Picasso's Guernica.

Madrid’s Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía has imposed a ban on photographing Pablo Picasso’s famous Guernica painting since it first acquired the work in 1992. But now, the museum is lifting the restriction for the first time.

Guernica, painted in 1937, is one of the noted artist’s most famed works and is an anti-war piece documenting the effects of the Spanish Civil War.

Guernica became a political symbol, to such a degree that it appears as an emblem in any episode of violence or the vulnerability of civilians,” reads a description of the museum’s website.

The museum prevented visitors from taking pictures of the mural to protect from camera flashes and prevent pedestrian traffic, allowing a better experience for visitors, Hyperallergic reports. Though, a spokesperson adds that it is too soon to tell what the true effects of the rule change, which took effect on September 1, will be.

Apparently, part of the reason for the change was the hope that allowing photos would reduce crowding, museum officials tell Smithsonian Magazine.

“It only takes a few seconds to take a selfie, and so the pace of the public will flow more,” a spokesperson tells The London Times. “It does not damage the painting, but rather prevents crowds and people trying to take a covert shot while the guards in the room reprimand them. It will improve the visitor experience.”

The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía still has some restrictions on how photos can be taken throughout the museum. Previously, the room housing Guernica was the only area that banned the taking of pictures entirely, Smithsonian Magazine reports. Flash photography and the use of selfie sticks, tripods, or other camera stands, is not allowed unless otherwise indicated.

It is not the only museum to have a blanket ban on the use of flash, either. Many museums have such rules based on the belief that the sudden light exposure can damage delicate work. Whether or not that’s actually the case, however, is a different matter. And even more locations, beyond even those housing precious artifacts, do not allow the use of selfie sticks or tripods.

Even still, Hyperallergic reports that the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía has faced criticism for its general ban on photography of Guernica, including the museum’s bending of the rules for celebrity visitors.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.