As It Happens

Escher museum under fire for displaying copies of the artist's work

Curator of the M.C. Escher Foundation says the Escher Museum in The Hague shows copies without labelling them as facsimiles.
M.C. Escher's "Hand with Reflecting Sphere" © 2014 The M.C. Escher Company-The Netherlands. All rights reserved. (Photo © NGC)

The Dutch artist M.C. Escher is known for his elaborate, mathematical prints, woodcuts and lithographs.

His work is displayed at museums across the world, including a collection at the National Gallery of Ottawa. But the curator of the M.C. Escher Foundation is calling out another collection of the artist's works, at the Escher Museum in The Hague, for being full of copies of the originals.

"I knew, at times, one or two would be replicas because some of the prints need restoration," Mark Veldhuysen told As It Happens guest host Laura Lynch. "We had no problem if you put up a replica ... as long as you put a notice next to it." 

The Escher museum claims that part of their collection is too fragile to constantly be on display. Veldhuysen says he finds that explanation suspicious, because their authentic collection is currently touring around Europe.

"They rent out their original collection and show fake ones in the museum. But they don't tell the public, which is very strange to me." 

An onlooker looks at an M.C. Escher work on display at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/AP Photo)

Veldhuysen compares it to going to see a famous Rembrandt, only to find out later that it was not the real thing, but a copy made in China: "How would you feel? Would you be happy?"

Veldhuysen has requested the museum post clear signs by all the facsimiles indicating that they are copies, but he says journalists who have been by the museum have not been able to find any such labels so far.