The National Gallery in London is allowing visitors to take photographs of its collection for the first time after staff realised they were fighting a losing battle against mobile telephone cameras.

The change in policy came after it was found to be increasingly difficult to differentiate between guests using their mobile phones to research paintings on the gallery's free Wi-Fi and those trying to take photographs.

Having encouraged the public to interact with the gallery on social media, it will now lift the ban on photography in its main public collection.

It brings the National Gallery into line with other British art institutions, including the Tate, which permits photographs of its permanent collection. Both galleries will maintain restrictions on the public photographing temporary exhibitions, for reasons of copyright.

Advertisement

The National Portrait Gallery has restrictions on temporary exhibitions and certain works, which are individually marked.

The National Gallery said its new rules would uphold the ban on flash photography and tripods.

Meanwhile, in New York a law signed this week by Governor Andrew Cuomo prohibits direct contact between members of the public and big cats at travelling animal shows and fairs. Animal exhibitors would face fines for each violation.

So-called "tiger selfies" have emerged as popular profile photos on online dating sites, with users looking to stand out by posting a photo of themselves with the dangerous predators.

- additional reporting AP