UCL Museums & Collections
Aims and objectives/ 3D colour laser scanning
Recently, the advantages of 3D scanning and e-Science technologies have gained increasing attention in Art and Humanities research. The application of these two technologies to museum work and artefact analysis is the main goal of the E-Curator project.
The AHRC-oriented aims of e-Curator are to:
- develop a traceable methodology for recording the surface detail and colour quality of a range of object types and materials
- explore the potential for producing validated datasets that would allow closer and more scientific examination of groups of objects, the processes involved in their manufacture, and issues of wear and deterioration.
- examine how the resulting datasets could be transmitted, shared and compared.
- begin to build expertise in the use and transmission of 3D scan data as a curatorial tool
At a time when museums are being urged to enter into more international partnerships, to engage with different cultural perspectives, and to loan their collections more freely, the development of e-Curator could alleviate some of the practical barriers to the movement of people and objects, enhancing international scholarship and facilitating the safe movement of artefacts.
3D colour scanning offers the potential to revolutionise artefact documentation. 3D colour scans can record the whole object, in the round, in great detail. There are many potential ways in which such scans could be used. They could enable curators in different institutions to compare closely ostensibly similar artefacts without travelling to see them. They could assist in the monitoring of decay and environmental damage over time, both within a museum or gallery or more critically when objects travel, for instance in touring exhibitions.
Objects have been selected from UCL Museums and Collections, to form the basis of this study. The artefacts represent a range of organic and inorganic materials and cover a range of disciplines; archaeology, anthropology and art. They have been selected by curators because they also present a range of issues in recording surface details. For instance, they will test the potential of 3D colour scanning technologies to recompose important markings lost to the naked eye, and offer new means of analysing, recording and comparing surface decay. One of the project aims is to develop a traceable methodology for recording the surface detail and colour quality of a range of object types and materials as well as to extend the scanning methodologies used and the level of possible analysis towards flexible objects.
Each of these objects will be scanned using a state of the art Arius3D Foundation Model 150 Colour Scanner, which is unique in the UK, to create detailed object ‘fingerprints’ of a range of artefact types. The scanner, which has recently been commissioned at UCL, is able to deliver 3D coloured point data at a sampling interval of 0.1mm (~250 dots per inch) at an accuracy of the order of 0.025mm over the surface of an object. Object of cross section up to 89cm x 50cm can be scanned. The scanner collects 3D geometry information through the use of a laser triangulation system, whilst colour is collected by analysis of the reflected light from three lasers at 638 nm, 532 nm, and 473 nm. These capabilities confer the project with the ability to produce state of the art 3D models which have a level of geometric and colour standardization that easily surpass any other available recording process.
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/research/ecurator/software_folder E-Science technologies are being widely applied in scientific fields such as meteorology, chemical engineering, medical research and electronics. This project would make use of e-science storage system (the Storage Resource Broker with Globus Grid Security Infrastructure) to securely distribute very large 3D object scans between museums and academic institutions, whilst ensuring that the data was reliable enough to be used for purposes such as checking the condition of touring artifacts and allowing the verifications of that condition by insurers.
Object scans will initially be stored on a file server at UCL running the Storage Resource Broker (SRB) server software.
Metadata drawn from museums catalogues will also be stored, allowing
partner sites to search for objects using standard curatorial
terminologies. More about the E-Curator prototype software architecture here.
During the project this server will be federated with other SRB systems sharing comparable data, particularly at partner sites that are making heavy use of the scans. These sites will also be assisted with obtaining X.509 certificates from the UK e-Science Certification Authority in order that they may securely access confidential SRB data.
The project will also experiment with directly integrating SRB access into the Web browser plugins used to visualize the object scans, taking advantage of new WSRF-compliant Web Service architectures such as GT4. This will remove the need for the use of separate file manager applications such as inQ to access the object database.