A Curator Answers: Substituting Artworks

July 9, 2009

Mira Hnatyshyn asks:

I've read that museums keep copies of some of the paintings, for example Starry Night by Van Gogh, on their walls while sending on exhibition tour the original. Is this true? Or Visa versa?

Thanks for your question, Mira. LACMA has never replaced a work of art with a replica while the actual piece is traveling, and the same is probably true for most museums. The closest we’ve come—and something which is common practice—is to hang a small photograph in place of the work with a note that says the original is on loan.

Nancy Thomas, Deputy Director