Museum Fakes & Frauds Revealed

A few years ago, I read an interesting book called DELUXE by Dana Thomas. My eyes  opened and I became more aware of counterfeit items like luxury goods. While for some, it may seems like a harmless act …purchasing something that is not real. But do you ever  stop and consider why? And what exactly are you buying into? It’s a heated discussion that I’ve had with many of my friends and it seems like anything can be copied these days. Scary.

The subject came up again just this past week. Only this time it was about artifacts. If you’re like me and travel frequently, you probably like to bring back a cultural keepsake. But I’m definitely weary of fakes that are sold to tourists. It may be a piece of Roman history? Or not. But imagine on a larger scale? And what if you were a serious collector of artifacts in the early 1900s when collecting such items from Egypt, China and Rome were all the rage. There was no technology and collectors were purchasing artifacts from around the world based on their own trained eye. Items began showing up at museums around the world and researchers began their detective work.

This week I had the rare opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and visit with the conservationists and researchers who’s jobs are to determine what’s real and what’s fake. With over six million items housed in Canada’s largest museum of natural history it’s truly an amazing experience to hear their stories. Conservationist Susan Stork showed a Chinese vase that came to the ROM’s collection about 40 years ago. Today, she is still working on its restoration and history. To hear, and to see the process , of this ongoing commitment to piecing together its history is truly amazing. Authenticity must be confirmed before determining each artifact’s place in the museum.

But the researchers here also explain that some fakes are so good that some have even earned their own place in collectible history and there are still items that puzzle them.

FAKES AND FRAUDS EXPOSED, will premiere on TVO in a new documentary series, MUSEUM DIARIES. This six week series will trail the unique jobs and the day-to-day challenges of those behind the scenes at the ROM. From unveiling medical causes of Egyptian Mummies to determining fake artifacts to a research expedition to Borneo this series offers and in-depth look into the world of scientists, curators and their incredible work.

MUSEUM DIARIES starts next Tuesday, Febraury 25 at 7:30 pm EST. on TVO for more information visit

Here’s the trailer…


Thank you to the Royal Ontario for this unique experience and access behind the scenes!


Sonya is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of She is also a well-established contributing lifestyle writer to other sites and magazines sharing her passion for arts & culture, fashion, beauty, travel and food. Sonya is based in Toronto, Canada. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @theculturepearl

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