The Textile Conservation Centre

Call for Papers from Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History

The Real Thing?’  The Value of Authenticity and Replication for Investigation and Conservation

The University of Glasgow: Research Network for Textile Conservation, Dress and Textile History and Technical Art History

December 6 and 7, 2012

We invite contributions for a conference at the University of Glasgow on Thursday 6 and Friday 7 December 2012 which will explore issues of authenticity with reference to textile conservation, dress and textile history and technical art history. The Research Network is funded by The Getty Foundation.

Authenticity depends on context. Art works may be autographs, or signed by the master but executed by his assistants; they may be workshop products or copies, serials, or concepts. They tell stories of alteration and intervention, loss and damage; how much of the artist’s original intent remains? Historic objects also have biographies of use, alteration and re-use before coming to rest in museum collections. The concept of authenticity is one of the core factors driving decision making in conservation and restoration, as reflected in the professional ethical codes. These judgments are becoming more complex because of rapidly changing conservation methodologies, both technical and virtual, and new approaches towards interpretation, display and use of collections by the cultural heritage sector, while advances in conservation science provide us with increasing amounts of information. The tangible and intangible qualities and the conceptual aspects of contemporary and non-western artefacts in particular, have made the role of curators, conservators, art historians, and conservation scientists even more complex and pressing.

A recent Research Network meeting threw up some interesting questions: How much is our notion of authenticity a modern, Western approach?  How can we safeguard ‘the real thing’ and continue to provide access to objects even though they may be problematic and resource-intensive? Can we rediscover authenticity through replication and re-enactment?  Can authenticity be reconstructed? What do fakes tell us about attitudes to ‘the real thing’? How far should we go in undoing historical additions and interventions? How do we preserve context and function? The virtual revolution: is virtual conservation successful?; does digitization attract visitors to the museum, or does it replace museum visiting? 

We welcome abstracts for papers on these and related topics. We also welcome abstracts for posters.  It is planned that some papers will be published online or in hard copy.

Please send abstracts as email attachments of no more than 250 words to Tahitia McCabe: by Friday 17 February 2012.  Please indicate whether your abstract is for a paper or a poster. 

Please include the names, addresses and email addresses of all authors, and indicate the author for correspondence. If you have a query or would like to discuss your ideas please contact:

Frances Lennard: or 

Erma Hermens :

We look forward to welcoming you to the conference. Booking details will be available in early 2012. The call for papers can also be found, along with more information about the Research Network, at