3D Colour Imaging For Cultural Heritage Artefacts

Mona Hess (University College London)

Digital Classicist and Institute of Classical Studies Seminar 2010

Friday July 2nd at 16:30, in room STB9, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

This paper will discuss the application of 3D recording and colour imaging of museum objects and the opportunities it opens up to broaden scientific knowledge about these artefacts.

The following recording technologies will be discussed and compared with regard to imaging complex objects: phase-shift laser scanning, handheld laser scanning, fringe projection scanning, high-resolution 3D colour laser scanning, PTM, photogrammetry. The evaluation criteria will include resolution, accuracy, noise, colour fidelity, mobility of the sensor, data processing chain.

The paper will explore the possibilities of integration of 3D image analysis with the daily work in a museum, tailored to conservation and curation. To plan and predict results a decision tree will be delineated suggesting one or more techniques to answer specific curatorial questions. The paper will also consider integration with other imaging techniques for cultural artefacts, including IR and UV photography, microscopic imaging and SEM surface recording.

Results will be exemplified by case studies and ongoing projects at UCL Museums and Collections. One example is the Norwegian-British collaboration that has delivered a 3D record of the biggest vessel at the British Museum, the Solomon Island war canoe. Metric survey and virtual reconstruction was paired up with anthropological considerations about the digital repatriation of the 3D virtual object.

Available imaging technology will be discussed keeping in mind the UK museum framework; the research focus lies on the evaluation of diverse recording technologies while producing quantitative and qualitative evidence of geometry, surface and damage. The approach will therefore develop a bridge between conservation analysis methods and engineering metrology, by closely analyzing the possibilities and limitations of imaging technologies, with the goal to lead to a holistic knowledge about cultural heritage artefacts.


The seminar will be followed by wine and refreshments.

Audio recording of seminar (MP3)

Presentation (PDF)