Andrew Peterson (a.k.a. Thomas Hawk) is not a disrespectful person. Andrew Peterson also does not like to be taken advantaged of, lied, or mis-treated.
So, Andrew learned that the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (a.k.a. MoMA) has changed it's policy, as is outlined here:
CamerasPeterson decided to join the museum, and take in the sights, because (no doubt), according to their website, SFMoMA celebrates its' commitment to photography here:
Photography is not permitted in the galleries. Flash photography is permitted only with a handheld camera in the Atrium.
SFMOMA began collecting and exhibiting photographs in 1935 — the same year it opened — making it one of the first museums in the country to examine photography as an art form. Today, the Museum's collection includes pictures from all over the world and embraces a wide range of subjects and authors from such diverse purviews as science, industry, government, entertainment, media, amateur amusement, and the fine arts.Then, the man tasked with ensuring a quality visitor experience in one of the most liberal/free/accepting communities on the planet - Simon Blint (Facebook Profile), Director of Visitor Relations at the SF MoMA - decides that he is going to call in the museum's private Gestapo to halt a man with a fisheye lens from taking pictures in just the location he not only was explicitly permitted to, but had called ahead to confirm was acceptable.
One of Simon's friends - Simon Read, decided to defend Simon on his blog here:
On Friday, Blint asked a patron to stop taking what appeared to be some inappropriate photographs."Appeared to be" and "inappropriate"? As someone who was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, help me understand how Simon Blint can know what's inappropriate? Is Mapplethorpe inappropriate? (Slate.com - Robert Mapplethorpe's Sensationalism) Certainly not in San Francisco, where he's celebrated (and collected). Peterson notes the hypocrisy on his blog when he writes "It is ironic that the great Cartier-Bresson, who took thousands of photographs of unsuspecting people in his work, hangs in the museum while a photographer practicing the same type of work gets ejected...". Blint must have missed this.
Simon's Pal Simon further defends his pal:
It did not take long for Peterson...to disseminate his vitriolic rant to more than a dozen websites. The immediate result was an onslaught of vicious criticism, attempts to get Blint fired, and countless e-mailed threats—this, to a man who was doing nothing more than his job.Actually, his jobs' description, back in July of 2004 reads, in part:
The Head of Visitor Services is responsible for directing front line resources to ensure that visitors have a positive and enjoyable museum experience...It appears that he's failed in that - Mr. Peterson had no such thing occur, and he's a member of the museum who followed the written rules.
If you want to check in to see if his job gets listed, here's the link to where they post their openings. It's not there as of 8/11/08. Maybe it's time to get the Museums' previous Head of Visitor Services - John O’Neill, back.
Simon's Pal Simon goes on to then say "Regardless of who was right or wrong..." as if he's the modern day Rodney King suggesting "why can't we all just get along", then goes on to say "...Peterson/Hawk has crossed the line. A rational human being would have simply written a letter to museum management, stating his case and asking for the situation to be put right. Peterson/Hawk has instead savaged Simon Blint’s online reputation, which is guaranteed to hurt his employment prospects for years to come."
Yes - a search for Simon Blint turns up all sorts of references to Peterson's experiences. Perhaps Blint should treat all his museums' visitors as if they will shout from the rooftops about bad experiences they might have. Heck Hotels.com gets the new world order concept in their latest ad campaign where hotel staff are concerned about the review they might get on the Hotels.com website (one ad here). A letter to museum management would have received some apologetic form letter, and little else. Instead, SF MoMA searches too return the article. While Peterson may have used choice words and colorful language, he outlined his experiences, and only Simon's Pal Simon has said anything (so far). To suggest, as Simon's Pal Simon did "SF MOMA has yet to present its side of the story. Whereas Peterson/Hawk can skewer Blint at his leisure, Blint has a chain of command he must work through before he can defend himself." Yes, and it is exactly that bureaucracy that would have kept, in all likelihood, Peterson from a resolution that not only was satisfactory to him, but also would have established a precedent for handling things appropriately in the first place.
Blint should write an apologetic letter to Peterson - personally. That would be a start.
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