Even Museums Make Mistakes

The Royal Ontario Museum is setting up the Fakes and Forgeries exhibition accepting that sometimes curators can’t tell the difference between authentic and fake artifacts.

Curator Paul Denis said to CBC News that “most of the artifacts were bought in the past, in the early 20th century,” when there was neither the level of knowledge nor the testing techniques to detect skilful forgeries’. He continues, “it’s a matter of handling a lot of objects and sometimes feeling them,” to check if they are genuine. Even though the  ROM periodically reviews its collections, consulting international experts, it is still difficult to tell at times.

The creation of the non-genuine pieces is encouraged by profit and the high demand for artifacts.

Now there is a technique called thermo-luminescence that can tell at what time period a ceramic object was fired, whether it be 100 or 1700 years ago. For example, ceramic Zapotec rain gods from Mexico that were found out to be fakes appear are equal in their beauty to the real figures from AD 200-500.

If you happen to be in Toronto, Ontario this Saturday, the exhibition of Fakes and Forgeries will be at the ROM until April 4. Afterwards, it will continue to tour Canada in Lethbridge and Lloydminster in Alberta, and Goderich, Minesing, St. Catharines, Peterborough, Ottawa and Guelph in Ontario.

Well, at least they’re admitting it. They invite museum goers to see if they can tell the difference between the forgery and the actual time piece.



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