3D Colour Laser Scanning Workshop and Conference

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Museums and Collections


UCL has recently commissioned a state of the art Arius 3D laser based imaging system that is capable of capturing highly accurate 3D geometry and colour information from complex objects with a point spacing of 100 microns. This next generation scanner is a facility unique in Europe and represents a technological step change with respect to established techniques. The system draws upon research and development licensed from the National Research Council of Canada who's recent work includes scanning the Mona Lisa for the Louvre. A similar scanner has been used by Arius 3D in Canada, to undertake a range of collaborative work with the Royal Ontario Museum and the Canadian Museum of Nature.
Both the colour scanning technology and the software necessary to rapidly generate computer graphics models and online content are now in use at UCL to digitise a wide range of objects, including those from the Petrie and Grant museums, held under the curatorship of UCL Muesums and Collections.

Following the strategic procurement of the Arius scanner at UCL it is timely to organise a museologically orientated 3D colour scanning workshop, practical evaluation and subsequent conference to look at the applications, practicalities and limitations of using 3D modelling techniques in museum work, especially in the fields of diagnostic and preventative museum conservation, display and exhibition and education, interpretation and access.

The use of visualisation technologies in museums has been met with mixed success. Object scanning has been used by museums indirectly for use in object based research for example the mapping of diagnostic features in natural history specimens, the preparation of geological material or the use of scanning electron micrographs for the examination of sub microscopic surface details of features at the microcrystalline and sub cellular level. Relatively little work has been done to record the colour and geometry of museum objects in a purely museological context.
There are now scanners available that are capable of producing full-colour three dimensional models in a relatively short amount of time. This means that for the first time a significant number of objects can be scanned relatively quickly and affordably. Nevertheless, although the technology has progressed rapidly there still needs to be exploratory work undertaken to discover how to use 3D models practically and efficiently in museum work and how this technology may benefit museum object research, conservation and the visitor experience. In order to maximise efficiency objects should be selected and scanned to fulfil a purpose that either complements using the actual object or provides information that could not be obtained without object scanning.

The 3D scanning project aims to explore the potential uses of 3D colour laser object scanning in three key distinct areas of museum work; 1) display and exhibition, 2) education and interpretation and 3) conservation.


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