ReACH

A New Convention on Digital Reproductions

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The Reproduction of Art and Cultural Heritage Project (ReACH) is a series of roundtables organized to share best practices concerning the production, storage and dissemination of digital and physical reproductions.

The information gathered from the five roundtables was used to draft a new convention concerning the role of museums and other organisations in the reproduction of works of art and cultural heritage, which could be shared and adopted by other institutions. The ReACH project coincides with the 150th anniversary of Henry Cole’s 1867 Convention, which helped usher in a period in which museums actively engaged in the creation of reproductions of objects. Henry Cole´s convention, signed by 17 heads of state, committed museums to recording and producing copies of important works that could be shared. The Cast Courts at the V&A are a direct result of this convention.

Henry Cole's 1817 Convention

Tristan Hunt, Director of the V&A and Ziyavudin Magomedov, founder of the Peri Charitable Foundation, spearheaded the ReACH initiative and organized the research team, which involved the Musee du Louvre, the Warburg Institute, the Pergamonmuseum, the State Hermitage Museum, Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage and the Factum Foundation. The core research team met Paris, Washington D.C., Abu Dhabi, Beijing, and London to discuss the main topics of inquiry.

[L] Tristan Hunt, Director of the V&A Museum, introducing Adam Lowe┬┤s presentation at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. - [R] ReACH roundtable in China

As a member of the core research group, Factum Foundation advised about the differences in recording technologies and the practical uses of digital information. Carlos Bayod introduced the techniques and technologies behind the facsimiles produced by the Foundation at the initiative's launch, which was held at UNESCO´s headquarters in Paris. Ferdinand Saumarez Smith´s presentation in Abu Dhabi emphasized the importance of transnational partnerships in facilitating the organization of recording projects and the study of recorded objects as clearly demonstrated in the collaborations with the Trust For African Rock Art in Chad and Nigeria and with People´s Palace Project in Brazil. Adam Lowe´s presentations in Washington D.C., St Petersburg, Beijing, and London focused on the key issues of data ownership, technology transfer, training in digital recording, and the trade-offs between authenticity and originality of re-materialized objects. The article Changing Attitudes to Preservation and the Role of Non-contact Recording Technologies summarizes Adam Lowe's contribution to ReACH.

The Peri Foundation partnered with the V&A to organize ReACH

Polina Filippova's presentation in St. Petersburg focused on the projects the Peri and Factum Foundations are carrying out to record and protect cultural heritage

As part of the third ReACH roundtable, Factum Foundation collaborated with the Peri Foundation in producing the exhibition Words of Stones: An experiment in reading and conveying the legacy of Qala Quraysh. The exhibition traced the history of Qala-Quraysh, one of the oldest Islamic settlements in Dagestan, through the tombstones in the mosque cemetery. The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg hosted the exhibition, the first ever at this world-famous institution to comprise only facsimile objects. The exhibition demonstrates what is possible and why the ReACH declaration is so important.

The Factum and the Peri Foundations organized the exhibtion 'Words of Stone' to coincide with the roundatable at the Hermitage Museum in St Peterburg

The exhibition included the facsimiles of a pair of oak doors from the Kala-Koreych mosque

ReACh resulted in the signing of a declaration at the V&A on 8th December 2017 in London. The new Declaration has been signed by 20 major museums and foundations invested in the use of digital technology to preserve, protect and distribute our shared cultural heritage. Along with an updated version of the Convention, ReACH produced a publication that compiles examples of the best practices selected from the roundtable discussions – as a roadmap for museums working with reproductions, as instruments for preservation and accessibility.

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