Call for Papers:

Museums: Places of Authenticity?

3rd and 4th March 2016

Mainz, Erbacher Hof and Museum für Antike Schiffahrt des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums

Museums, collections and archives collect, maintain, keep and research “authentic” evidence of our cultural and natural heritage. At the same time, they present this evidence in new categories and contexts, so giving objects a new significance as museum or collection artefacts. They also translate and communicate the knowledge associated with their exhibits in the terms of today’s society. In addition, many museums inform the public about the approaches, questions and methods of the scientific disciplines associated with research into these objects and so offer academics a platform for dialogue with the public.

The aim of the interdisciplinary international conference is to perform a joint assessment of the importance and functions of “authenticity” in museums and other similar institutions, such as archives and collections. It is to consider on a broad interdisciplinary basis how “authenticity” can be established by means of collection and research, conservation and restoration, as well as the exhibition concept and communication work.

With this conference, the Leibniz Research Alliance “Historical Authenticity” wishes to help reflect and develop the collection strategies, conservation and restoration practices, as well as the dialogue and communication work of museums and other collection-led research institutions. This should provide important impetuses for museum and collection practices.

The conference is aimed at scientists from all subject areas and other specialists from museums, collections and educational establishments. The papers will be published. The presentations will be given in German and English.

Conference topics

A) Historical change of authenticity ideals from curatorial theory and practice

The growing importance of scientific analysis in the evaluation of objects, as well as the new sensitivity for provenance (“provenance research”), are increasingly bringing “cumulative status”, uncertain provenances or old restorations to light involving everyday history exhibits, scientific collection items and “art” or archaeological objects. It is rare to find objects that have not been modified in some way, which would be ideal in terms of authenticity.

B) Ethics and basic principles of restoration, conservation and preparation

Approaches to artistic, cultural and natural heritage and thus also the aims and methods of restoration and conservation have changed dramatically over the years. Part of this process is an ongoing examination of the methods and ethical principles of working with originals.

C) Authenticity, learning and experience: the museum as a place for knowledge transfer and for the public understanding of science and the humanities

The topic examines the learning and engagement strategies and methods in museums today and the significance assigned to authenticity and credibility. It is also about the challenge of communicating scientific knowledge methodologies and making them transparent, i.e. clarifying research questions, processes and methods, demonstrating and discussing its limits (cf. PUSH and PUR, as well as science & humanities & society).

Submission of abstracts

Abstracts for the 20-25-minute papers (not more than 500 words) can be submitted with a brief CV by 30th September 2015. Please email this to The Programme Committee will select papers by 2 November 2015.

Poster presentation

As part of the evening event on 3 March in the Museum für Antike Schiffahrt, posters can be presented inde- pendently of a conference paper in the “Marktplatz der Projekte”. Please submit a short abstract (max. 500 words) and a brief vita to by 30 September 2015. We explicitly welcome not only scientific projects but also practical projects relating to the conference topic. Posters should be in DIN A0 portrait format. The Programme Committee will select posters by 2 November 2015.

Further Information:

CFP – Museums: Places of Authenticity?

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