replicas in museum exhibits

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    • #132140
      Charlene Martin

      This may seem like a weird questions, but how many of you have replicas of collection artifacts made, vs. having the real item on display? I understand that I should be making reproduction scans of documents and manuscripts, and rotating items on display every 3-6 months to reduce cumulative light damage – but what about 3D reproductions of old writing desks, etc?

      Thank you!

    • #132143
      Ron Kley

      This has long been a topic of discussion among personnel of “living history” sites, where objects are often displayed in an outdoor setting, or in a “hands-on” use context. There is general agreement in then field that the use of original period artifacts in such circumstances is ultimately consumptive, and that the use of replicas is to be preferred. (There are some persuasive  counter-arguments to the effect that certain artifacts — machines in general being a good example — are apt to have their longevity increased through prudent use with appropriate maintenance rather than sitting in storage under “benign neglect” conditions.
      As a practical matter, however, the procurement of high quality replicas is often prohibitively costly. Much discussio0n of the issues involved has taken place at regional and national/international meetings of ALHFAM, the Association for Living Historty, Farm and Agricultural Museums, and in that organization’s quarterly Bulletin and annual conference Proceedings. Some pertinent information is to be found on that organization’s wen site ( The organization also maintains a listing of reputable suppliers for a wide variety of replica items suitable for use as “expendifact” stand-ins for original period objects.


    • #132142

      Wings of Eagles Discovery Center has three replica aircraft ( in addition to14 actural originals.  Two are full size, accurate, exqisitly rendered replicas of WWII German and Japanese aircraft.  There is also 7/8, flyable replica of a WWI Nieuport 11.  In addition we use large scale and 1/72 to 1/48 scale models in period exhibits.  The whole experience is enhanced by the physical and verbal presentation.  As for ducuments and photos; copies from archival storage are always safest.

    • #132141
      Kaia Landon

      These days, we rarely display an original document or photograph unless it is for a short temporary exhibition. (And even then we’re more likely to display a good quality reproduction of the photograph, since we then have more options – stick it in a nice frame, mount on foam core, etc.)

      We do not have replicas made of 3D objects, although we have a non-accessioned 19th century (not from our geographic area but very similar to what was worn) dress on display, with the idea that it can be on display forever, and what light damage will occur to it is okay. Under normal museum lighting conditions I wouldn’t be too concerned about a wooden desk. (If it’s being touched or there are other concerns that might be a different story, but assuming it’s not literally going to be on display forever, it’s probably okay.)

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