Original Copies: Facsimiles and their Mediations of Authenticity and Ownership

We are delighted to announce the opening of a new exhibition in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library‘s Kempner Gallery: Original Copies: Facsimiles and their Mediations of Authenticity and Ownership.

The desire to capture likenesses, to reproduce things of value as closely as possible, stretches deep back into human history. We have been creating visually exacting reproductions for nearly as long as we have been creating images – and we continue to do so. Odds are, this is something most of us have done with a work of art we liked, aided by a smartphone camera.

As exacting copies that reproduce both the contents and the physical presentation of their originals, facsimiles can tell us a great deal about the histories of technology and of taste. This exhibition assembles materials from across Columbia’s distinctive collections – from a Zhao Mausoleum relief rubbing, to Shakespeare’s First Folio, to a contemporary recreation of Captain America #2 – and includes replicas, restorations, creative forgeries, even a ‘facsimile’ of a book made by aliens. Taken together, this wide range of books and other objects invites us to explore the technologies that make facsimiles possible, the motivations and appetites that drive their production, and the questions they raise about originality and authenticity.

The exhibition will be open to the public through July 28, 2023 during RBML’s regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 10 am – 4 pm).