Costume and “the copy” : defining authenticity in the analogue original, the reproduction, and the digital garment within the museum and archive



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A comparative examination of the original and reproduction Gone With the Wind costumes at the Harry Ransom Center is at the heart of this study, which proposes to trace the relationship between the analogue original costume, the replica garment, and the digital image reproduction. A discussion of definitions of authenticity and “the original” within such areas as conservation, film studies, and audience perception explores the questions: what is the role of the reproduction, and can it challenge the authority and “aura” of the original? This inquiry illustrates that authenticity is negotiated; it is not always fixed in a clear line ranging from “the real thing” on one side to “the copy” on the other. The study concludes with examining digital image reproductions of costume. The online digital database record can potentially reveal more than a face-to-face encounter with the object in a gallery space, illuminating the biography and history of the garment, changes in curatorial decisions and exhibition practice, and the experience of tactility and embodiment.