Historical objects that serve educational and interpretive purposes face frequent use and can easily be damaged, particularly when those objects are designed to be disposed of following high usage. Conserving these artifacts through both digital and physical reproductions enables museum staff, scholars, and the general public to tell a more complete history of the objects and of material culture. To demonstrate the necessity of preserving functional artifacts, this thesis examined historic wooden typefaces used for document printing to answer the following question: do digital and physical reproductions of wood type fonts allow for preservation of the original fonts while maintaining an authentic, participatory experience for visitors? By working with the collection of typefaces at Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, New York and the Cary Graphic Art Collection at Rochester Institute of Technology, I recreated damaged types with methods tested by scholars of printing history to demonstrate the value of physical and digital reproductions. I also showed how such efforts enable museums and other collecting institutions to view type as both an art form and a means of production. This research contributes to the ongoing discussion on the use of facsimiles in the museum space for exhibition and educational purposes and the conversations surrounding authenticity in museums.

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Museum Studies (BS)


Juilee Decker

Advisor/Committee Member

Peter Wisbey


RIT – Main Campus