‪Museum Fakes, Forgeries, and the Quest for Authenticity: A Mini-Symposium‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

On Thursday, February 9, 2012, the de Young hosted an important mini-symposium addressing the issue of Museum, Fakes, Forgeries, and the Quest for Authenticity.

As an art institution, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco endeavor to offer visitors experiences with authentic works of art. We take this responsibility very seriously. After all, collectors can easily buy reproductions, and the public is familiar with works created for tourists around the globe. The very existence of art museums supports the argument that an authentic work reveals something to the viewer that a reproduction simply cannot. Fakes and forgeries thus threaten a museum’s educational and inspirational mission. But in the twenty-first century, how do we define an authentic work of art? Because the Fine Arts Museums are relatively young by international standards, and since its collections continue to grow, the problem is of concern to the Museums’ curators and donors alike.

This mini-symposium is the third in a series addressing timely topics of particular significance to textiles and the arts of Africa, Oceania, Asia, and the Americas. In 2010 we looked at ways in which scientific testing is being used to evaluate works of art. In 2011 we discussed complexities surrounding the concepts of ownership, cultural property, and provenance. In 2012 we will explore fakes and forgeries in the museum context and the quest for authenticity. Six experts will address specific museum case studies that reveal the complexity and intrigue surrounding this compelling issue for curators, collectors, and dealers.