From mysterious 16th century monsters to fake ivory and infamous forged manuscripts, several Oxford-based museums are set to display a range of fakes this April Fools’ Day.

The exhibitions, part of 'April Fakes Day 2024', aims to encourage us to question the real from the unreal.

The initiative is organised by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities and led by University of Oxford researcher Professor Patricia Kingori.

Oxford Mail: The event is being led by University of Oxford researcher Professor Patricia KingoriThe event is being led by University of Oxford researcher Professor Patricia Kingori (Image: PA)

She hopes to challenge the public to consider the ethics of using fakes to judge what is authentic, and whether the importance of authenticity varies across different fields.

Ms Kingori, professor of global health ethics at the university’s Nuffield Department of Population Health, said: "Fakes are often dismissed as rubbish.

"But in a world where it’s increasingly hard to tell what’s real, they can help us to understand what we value and raise other important questions - such as who gets to say that something is real or fake?

"Are some copies ‘better’ than others?

"And how can a fake help us understand the reality of the world in which we live?"

Museums across Oxford and London will host activities and exhibits, including a display of a mysterious monster from the 1500s at London’s Natural History Museum.

It's known as a Jenny Haniver and is thought to have magical powers.

Meanwhile, the Bodleian will showcase fake books, documents and art in the Weston Library, and the Pitt Rivers Museum will allow visitors to hold fake ivory and learn how or why it is made.

Ms Kingori’s research delves into various kinds of fakes, from seemingly harmless animals, relics and paintings in museums to more harmful deepfake videos, counterfeit drugs, and misinformation.

Her ongoing project, funded by the Wellcome Trust and titled 'Fakes, Fabrications and Falsehoods in Global Health', explores uncertainty around product authenticity.

She is interested in understanding who produces 'real' knowledge and what they create.

Ms Kingori is also seeking to understand how healthcare professionals deal with the dichotomy of real and fake medicines in a context where quality is paramount.

The History of Science Museum in Oxford will exhibit counterfeit drugs hidden among real ones on April Fakes Day, and will educate visitors about the history of vaccine misinformation.

The exhibits and activities planned for the event span numerous institutions.

The Ashmolean Museum will educate visitors on the history of fakes and forgeries, while Oxford University's Museum of Natural History will have specimens that aren't quite as real as they first seem.

Ms Kingori added: "Oscar Wilde wrote in The Importance of Being Earnest that: 'the truth is rarely pure and never simple'.

"April Fakes Day celebrates this sentiment and underlines the impact that fakes have on our everyday reality."