Conservation in Australia, Past Present and Future: Preprints from the AICCM National Conference, 19 – 21 October 2011 Canberra


The philosophical platform of modern conservation has been established on the basis of evolved concept and ideas of authenticity. The 19th century conservation focused on the visible aspects of authenticity, such as form and material but the concept in the 20th century has evolved into the one to embrace both tangible and intangible aspects such as function, workmanship and setting. In addition an attitude toward understanding and defining the concept has been chanted with static into flexible so that, for example, the authentic form could be both the earliest stage of creation and the present one with patina and historical addition.

However Korean conservators still exercise their practice based on the 19th century concept of authenticity obsessing with ‘original form’. The timeline of authentic form for them is fixed to the moment when the object was created, so authentic form has been understood as the ‘earliest form’. The evolved concept of authenticity written in the conservation canon such as the Nara Document (1994) has never been a feasible idea to an actual practice.

Taking the case of Seokuram (an 8th century Buddhist cave), the presentation examines Korea’s attitude toward authenticity with analytical perspective in three areas: its historical and social context; the way in which it has affected to the decision-making; and the problems of obsessing with authentic form. The presentation intends not to judge the local practice from international perspective but rather to find a compatible solution between international principles and local practice in defining and exercising authenticity.


2011 AICCM National Conference, Canberra
Paper author:
Sugeong Lee