Photo Policy Change in De Smet

Sarah holding Little House book on the cement porch in front of Surveyor's House
Sarah Outside Surveyor’s House

Then You Couldn’t

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society has had a long standing policy of no photos inside the buildings. The Surveyor’s House, the Third Street House, and the Visitor Center/Museum were all no goes. It was strictly enforced. In fact, one time I got told not to take notes with a digital recorder. When I went in June we were still strictly told NOT to take any photos. The only exceptions being the inside of both the original and replica schools.

This used to be a standard rule in  most museums because they wanted to keep control of images taken there to make sure they weren’t used in a way they’d object to and to encourage you to buy slides and postcards, etc. from their gift shop. There was also a belief that flash photography increased the fading of artifacts inside. Research done by Kodak has shown that was not the case. Slowly now museums, as they want the free advertising of social media, are lifting these restrictions. Where they remain in place, please honor them.

Now You Can

Starting midway through the summer I saw posts of photos from De Smet start coming through my feed. At first I thought maybe it was a special waiver for the anniversary celebration, so I checked with them to get an official response AND I can now officially say the policy changed part way through the season. Photos are now welcome inside all the houses. They didn’t give me an official policy when I e-mailed, but I assume they have one. Ask if you intend to do anything more with the photos than personal use or a short social media post.

Reason to Go Back

So if you were looking for an excuse to plan a trip back to De Smet NOW you have a good reason! I wish I’d have known when I was there for the event in July, but I’d just taken the tour in June so I didn’t go. I would have if I’d have known. I’ll have to be back soon and I hope you will too.

UPDATED September 19 2017: From Museum Director Tessa Flak This summer the Society has started to allow visitors to take pictures inside the museum buildings for personal use only, however, we ask you not to film anything. Also, we don’t allow visitors to take pictures in our exhibit. Please contact the Society if you plan to use our photos for more then personal use. Thank you all for understanding.” I removed references to video from this post after she made this comment on Facebook. The comment is added here with her permission.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook,  Twitter,  Google+,   LinkedIn, and Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.