Oxford Celebrates April Fakes Day: Exploring Hoaxes and Forgeries to Unveil Hidden Truths


April Fools’ Day takes on a new twist this year as the University of Oxford leads a celebration of hoaxes, forgeries, and fakes.

April Fakes Day 2024, organized by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), aims to challenge perceptions of reality and authenticity through a series of exhibitions and activities across museums in London and Oxford.

Oxford Celebrates April Fakes Day: Exploring Hoaxes and Forgeries to Unveil Hidden Truths

(Photo : WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / SirMetal)

Exploring the Ethics of Fakes

In an era dominated by misinformation, the event seeks to provoke thought on the distinction between fact and fiction. Professor Patricia Kingori, a researcher at the University’s Nuffield Department of Population Health, urges participants to consider the role of fakes in understanding what society values and the complexities of authenticity. The event questions who determines what is real or fake, whether some copies hold more value than others, and how fakes contribute to our understanding of the world.

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Highlights and Activities

Throughout the event, museums will showcase a diverse array of artifacts and activities. London’s Natural History Museum will exhibit a mysterious 16th-century creature known as a Jenny Haniver, challenging visitors to question its authenticity. Meanwhile, the Bodleian Library will display fake books, documents, and art, prompting reflection on the nature of forgery.

In Oxford, the University Museum of Natural History will feature specimens that blur the line between reality and illusion, while the Ashmolean Museum will offer insights into historical fakes and forgeries. Additionally, the Story Museum will delve into the world of tricksters and shapeshifters through storytelling sessions.

A screening of Orson Welles’ "F for Fake" at Oxford’s Ultimate Picture Palace will cap off the event, followed by a panel discussion with Professor Patricia Kingori and other experts.

Understanding the Impact

Professor Kingori's research focuses on various forms of fakery, ranging from harmless museum artifacts to more insidious phenomena like deepfake videos and misinformation. Through projects like the Wellcome-funded "Fakes, Fabrications, and Falsehoods in Global Health," she explores the implications of uncertainty and ambiguity in determining authenticity, particularly in the context of healthcare.

April Fakes Day serves as an opportunity to engage with the complexities of fakery and its role in shaping our understanding of reality. As Oscar Wilde famously remarked, "the truth is rarely pure and never simple." This celebration of hoaxes underscores the nuanced ways in which fakes intersect with our everyday lives.

For those interested in participating or learning more about April Fakes Day, visit

Engaging the Public

In addition to the physical exhibitions and activities, April Fakes Day aims to engage the public through online resources and interactive experiences. Virtual tours of the exhibitions, educational videos explaining the history and significance of various fakes, and live Q&A sessions with experts will be available to audiences worldwide.

The event organizers hope to reach a diverse audience and spark conversations about the nature of truth, authenticity, and deception in today's society. By exploring the ethics of fakes and forgeries, April Fakes Day encourages critical thinking and reflection on the role of perception in shaping our understanding of the world.

Future Directions

As April Fakes Day gains traction and generates interest, there are plans to expand the event in future years. Organizers are considering partnerships with additional museums and cultural institutions, as well as the development of new interactive experiences and educational materials.

By continuing to explore the theme of hoaxes and fakery, April Fakes Day aims to foster greater awareness and understanding of the complexities of truth and authenticity in an increasingly digital and interconnected world.

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