Detail of proud engineer, artists and craftsmen standing by recently made concrete replica of St John's Cross, Iona. Photographer Arthur Macgregor, (c) courtesy of Historic Environment Scotland (J R Scott Collection)

Why this resource?

In unique ways replicas extend our understanding of the relationships between people, places and things. If we lose them or fail to change our practices in relation to the creation of new replicas, we will fail to release the potential they embody, to challenge our notions of authenticity and value, to interrogate our heritage and museum practices, and to acknowledge underappreciated human skills, crafts, passions and ways of seeing the world.

Caring for and working with replicas, past, present or future, will benefit from joined-up thinking in relation to the authenticity, value and significance of analogue and digital copies, and in relation to ethical considerations that also embrace the originals. The intellectual and practical treatment of replicas is disjointed and fragmented in terms of heritage and museum practices; replicas and their originals often sit between places, collections and sectors, and are subject to inconsistent, different and divergent practices, which may well include inertia and invisibility. We seek to change this.

Underpinning this change is an approach that moves on from the idea that authenticity is something intrinsic to an object. Instead, authenticity is about how we experience the ‘truthfulness’ and auratic qualities of our subject, based on material qualities, a sense of ‘pastness’, and the networks of social relations it is embedded in over time.

Image: photographer Arthur Macgregor © Historic Environment Scotland (J R Scott Collection)

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