x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Not the genuine article

A museum that was caught out displaying fake artefacts should seize the opportunity to reinvent itself.

China has long been notorious as the global centre of brand name knock-offs, fake components, pirated DVDs, mislabelled products, even a "counterfeit diva" at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. This unwelcome reputation could be seen as a testament to Chinese ingenuity. But more often it has made buyers, at home and abroad, highly suspicious about buying certain types of Chinese products.

This wariness will not be decreased by the news that the Jibaozhai Museum of Chinese history and culture, in Jizhou, Hebei province, has closed, after admitting that most of its 40,000 artefacts are fakes.

Around the world, museums display replica artefacts when the originals are not available, or are too valuable or fragile to be shown. But it is standard practice to label such items clearly as modern copies.

China, though, has different standards. State media reported in 2011 that 80 per cent of the so-called fossils in China's museums are fake.

The good news is that the Jibaozhai Museum now has a fine marketing opportunity if it were to reinvent itself as a National Museum of Fake Artefacts and Bogus Goods. The only challenge would be to keep genuine items out.