4 responses
While I can see your point about published works and not reading the original manuscript, I do get very excited when I see an original manuscript. As an aspiring writer, I like to see the crossed out words, punctuation corrections and marginalia -- admittedly this is harder to see in visual art.

As for David, there are a bunch of replicas around. I saw what I *thought* was the original in Florence, many years ago, but I had seen a replica. While I had studied that replica, walked around it as though it were the original and been very pleased to have seen it, I felt stupid later when I discovered it was one of many copies. I suspect if I had been aware that it was a replica, I would have just acknowledged it and continued on my way.

Art, as objects, age and part of the joy in looking at an original piece is seeing the impact for better or worse of its journey from artist to wherever it is now. Take for example the Venus de Milo -- would people still recognize the statue were her arms in tact? After all, the sculptor created arms back in the 3rd century BC but through whatever means (vandalism or less direct mistreatment) they are gone, making the resulting sculpture iconic. Maybe in another 2000 years, after aliens attack the Louvre, she will be rediscovered without her head.

That said, I wholeheartedly applaud the use of replicas for study. This is what I do for a living, after all. I take rare and fragile items from our Special Collections and digitize them. I would never dissuade a scholar from studying the original but for most students and researchers, a replica is sufficient.

Also.. I would not pay a lot of money (if any) to see a collection of replicas if I were aware they were replicas. A museum of fakes would only be interesting if the fakes were displayed alongside the originals, so that one could compare and contrast. Does that make any sense?

With regards to the "original manuscript" example, I too have an interest in seeing an annotated copy - I think of the first time I took a hard look at Eliot's process in constructing The Wasteland. That said, if you told me I could watch The Godfather on a 12" B&W TV or Beverly Hills Chihuahua in 1080p HD, I would choose the Godfather, because even in a bastardized form, my mind can fill in the blanks.

Also, I would probably not pay a lot money to replicas either, but I think that's the point. If you lived somewhere that would NEVER get canon-quality works of art and could pay $10 to see 100 classics, would that be worth ten cents each, even though they were copies? For education value, I think yes. For entertainment value... maybe?

Thanks for listening!

If there were a "Replicas of the Louvre" tour for $10, yeah, I would be there. For educational value, being able to see the scale and detail of famous pieces of art would be of great value and for entertainment, why not? I think as long as the show organizers were up front about it, people would be OK.

A huge bonus would be to allow visitors to pose with the works (interactivity would rock after centuries of "no touching!").