What is the most famous present-day object that can be seen only in person (no photographs exist)?

I am looking for the most famous object that can be seen in person by an average member of the general public, but has never been photographed (or at least, any photographs of it have been destroyed and future photography is prohibited), such that the only way to see it is to go visit in person.

Is there such a thing in the modern world?

Note that I said “most famous”. That implies it has to be somewhat famous, such that you’d actually want to see it, but photography is prohibited or otherwise impossible.


The naughty bits of Miss Scarlett Johansson.

I’m not sure there are any published photographs of whatever it is that passes for the Ark of the Covenant inside the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion. But it gets passed off as the actual Ark, so in one sense what’s inside is “famous” even if it’s not the Ark (which, sadly, it probably ain’t).

I have read that its guardians are not disposed to average people gawking at it, so I’m inferring from your OP that “average person” means an average guy could see it if allowed. The dilemma here is permission.

The Ark of the Covenant? Said to be held by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. No, I don’t believe it either, but some sort of religious artifact might be your best bet.

Britney Spear’s… no wait there are pictures of that.

Pipped on both counts. I’ll just add that, unlike Ms Spears, I don’t think Ms Johansson puts hers on public display, which disqualifies them under the terms of the OP.

The toilet in the Oval Office or the Pope’s bedroom? Seriously, there’s lots of rooms in the White House & Vatican that aren’t open to photography. Even though they are public buildings.

Anything outdoors can be photographed. Even military installations are photographed by spy satellites.

Sorry, disqualified.

I was thinking about a toilet in a famous building, but with the advent of camera-phones someone out there probably does have a photo.

Maybe some of the exhibits at the Mütter Museum, which doesn’t allow photography? Some pics have leaked out, but I don’t think all of them.

is it required that the object is visible to the general public? If not, then something like the alleged Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia would probably qualify (has any person other than its caretaker, Orthodox or not, been allowed to see it?)

If so, I’d make a WAG that candidates might be found on military bases. For example, personal photography is forbidden in some sensitive areas in the US that one can visit relatively easily. For example, the outer grounds of the Pentagon may be visited without a pass, but there is a sign that you are subject to search anywhere on the outer grounds (though they don’t seem to actually do that). But then, there are plenty of photographs OF the Pentagon that you can find.

I think there are films that are shown to the public, but no reproductions have been released. Does that count? The 2010 restoration of Metropolis, for example. Or the short films shown in the Ghibli Museum.

When I was in Xian in 1985, photographing the buried terracotta soldiers was prohibited. One could go inside the structure to look at them, but you’d have your camera confiscated if the guards saw you take a picture.

Things might be different now over 25 years later

But there are pictures, e.g., in the Wiki article.

Cecil Adams?

One could purchase photos in the gift shop taken by official government photographers, but you could take your own pictures.

What makes you think an average person would be allowed to see him in person?

I hate you. You have a point, but that just makes me hate you more, you hateful person, you.

Every night we see things in our dreams that cannot be photographed.

Doesn’t he do book signings?

In Singapore, the military bases don’t allow photography, but all the males have to go through them, so I guess they’re a good candidate.

It doesn’t quite fit the bill as a single object, but sometimes you get viewings of dead celebrities that are open casket and open to the public. Any old schlub can show up and gawk all they like, but they usually have goons on hand to make sure nobody takes any pictures.

Although, along similar lines, Kim Il Sung’s embalmed body might fit the bill. His mausoleum is the biggest tourist attraction in North Korea-- supposedly most North Koreans are expected to visit a few times a year and if you do one of the very-guided tours it’s pretty much a mandatory stop. But it is definitely not a spot you are allowed to take pictures and security is insanely tight, even by North Korean standards. Perhaps there are some official pictures somewhere but, other than some grainy shots from his funeral, they’re not on the internet.