The 'Real Thing' in Art and Conservation
Rebecca Gordon, Erma Hermens, Frances Lennard
What is the ‘real thing’ in cultural heritage? The papers in this book address the concepts of authenticity and replication for the interpretation, display and conservation of our cultural heritage.
In the West the value placed on ‘original’ materials has been central to our understanding of cultural heritage. While advances in conservation science provide detailed information on the tangible properties of objects, there is a growing emphasis on the importance of their conceptual framework and the context in which they were created. Therefore, we have to consider the value of different ways of representing objects and debate whether one stage of their history should take precedence over others. In this context, the potential use of replication broadens the discussion on authenticity and brings about additional challenges – in what circumstances does a replica gain significance as another form of the ‘real thing’?
While the concept of authenticity continues to be one of the core factors driving decision making in conservation and interpretation, new approaches towards the display and use of collections are challenging conventions, making the roles of curators, conservators, art historians and conservation scientists increasingly complex. The papers in this volume address this dilemma and provide a platform for the continued discussion of this valuable and intriguing subject.