Cultural heritage applications for 3D scans

(Abby Crawford) #1

A number of Sketchfab users have created 3D scans of cultural heritage (artifacts, buildings, excavations, etc.). Are they being used as part of online exhibits? Included in archaeological records? Created just for kicks? Or do they have some other purpose?

Friday Hangout: What have you been working on this week?
(Humanti) #2

I tried auctioneer houses offer this option. Unfortunately I do not wish it. Even this approach is not widespread, the time comes for him.

(Bart) #3

@abbyec, maybe it's worth while searching for some users (there is at least a handful of professional users involved in this), and pinging them (leave a comment or send a message using the contact form if they're PRO) to invite them to this forum thread. As we just launched the forum most people may not be aware of it yet.

Let me know if you need any help, I'd love to see such discussions start here!

@humanti, I'm sorry but I'm not entirely sure what you mean, care to elaborate?

(Bdnewnan) #4

Art in Public Places is a program that documents historical and figurative sculptures and the like for the pure enjoyment of those who follow. With 3D capture using such as 123D catch or Recap 360 of Autodesk, then import the obj files into sketchfab as a zip folder. to see my files go to

We are beginning to get the groundwork ready for uploading the sketchfab file directly to AIPP and should have that capability very soon. Keep in mind, this is public art for pleasure and educational purposes only. For the Umlauf Sculptures, I shot about 4500 photos to capture the statues with permission. It was a lot of fun.

(Bdnewnan) #5
here is the link for contact info. I expect to ramp up my camera in January so lets get going.

(Abby Crawford) #6

AIPP looks like a really cool program! Thanks for sharing it.

(Andersgutehall) #7

I have worked with archaeological documentation for almost 20 years now, and are interested in how to improve the way we document. The model that I have here are from a study that I have conducted, were I compared and discussed the use of photogrammetry versus hand drawing in swedish contract archaeology. The study are for now only published in a appendix to the excavation report (in swedish), but hopefully soon also in english in a conference paper.

The field documentation have I contacted as employed, but the study and model as freelance.

(Mauricesvay) #8

I've added a link to my scan of a Rodin's sculpture on wikipedia:

(Nebulousflynn) #9

hi all - some very interesting projects going on here : )

It seems there are lots of commercial and non-commercial applications for this tech... @mauricesvay - I especially like seeing how the format can help improve a listing on a free educational site like wikipedia! Hopefully they'll allow embeds soon?

For my part, I instigated the British Museum's foray into digital, 3D downloads while I worked there as a digital designer. Currently all the scans on the BM's profile were made using 123D Catch:

The project grew from a personal interest in photogrammetry - I made the scans before office hours and on my lunch break at the Museum - into something (with the help of Sketchfab) that I think has lots of possibilities.

I have since left the Museum, started using Agisoft Photoscan, and am looking at how photogrammetry can be used to capture historic objects and places that don't physically or thematically fit within a traditional Museum environment. For example: another building or a scientifically significant piece of mountainside, an historic, but rotting, tree trunk or a piece of local history.

Other uses I've looked at for photo-scanning culturally or historically significant objects include:

  • annotated Sketchfab embeds of objects on museum's websites for promotion and education purposes
  • downloadable 3D content for people to engage with museum's collections by printing or incorporating into digital projects (schools, colleges, individuals, artists)
  • community engagement opportunities, with members of the public contributing to scanning museum's collections or contributing objects of local significance

I have basically been bitten by the photogrammetry bug!

(Abby Crawford) #10

@andersgutehall I would be interested to see the paper when it comes out in English! I work at Gabii in Italy and we do a lot of photogrammetry for field recording. With a lot of built features and a large excavation area, it ends up being much more efficient than hand-drawing everything. You can see more on our work here.

@nebulousflynn Your British Museum work is a great example of how museums can use photogrammetry to reach out to people who might never make it to the museum (among others, of course). I started a project recently with a local museum and in talking about the possibilities of photogrammetry, it was suggested that it could be used to make exhibits more interactive. For example, putting QR codes that link to 3D scans in the exhibit. If you can only fit so many objects in a room, it's a fun way to get around the limits of display space, while at the same time enhancing audience engagement.

(Bart) #11

I'm not sure if this is entirely on topic, but our team in NYC scanned in the statues of Madame Tussauds:

@nebulousflynn I had no idea you were behind the British Museum scans. Great job!!

(Nebulousflynn) #12

thanks @bartv! hoping to work with other museum's in London in 2015

@abbyec - sounds great! I think with all the free tools out there for scanning and editing, plus Sketchfab's annotations, smaller museums have a lot of opportunities for beating the bigger institutions to the punch with regards to web 3D and more modern interactive offerings. I recently gave a small presentation at Museum Showoff in London detailing how museums might use photogrammetry and Sketchfab - the slides can be found here but I'm afraid I made up my speech on the night so there are no notes. Most of it is pretty self explanatory and there are some cool links at the end smile

As I prepared the talk I was struck by the notion that museums as buildings and institutions wouldn't really exist if photogrammetry had been available back in the day. Moving a statue or object from it's natural/historical/geographical surroundings to show to the public necessitated museums in their current state, but with the internet, photogrammetry, VR (and whatever comes next!) you can now take the public to the object wherever it is!

(Bart) #13

Hi all,

the MicroPasts team shared two very interesting articles with me that I think you will enjoy reading:

(Fmmltd) #14

Hi Abby,

Thanks for your kind reviews on our digital conservation work on Lynch's Castle Galway, Ireland.

We have been using 3D laser scanning for a while now to record and archive historic and archaeological structures and features (2D & 3D). In some cases the structures have been 'digitally rescued' or as we term 'preserved through record' and do not physically exist anymore (various reasons). Recently we have started to combine 3D laser scanning surveys with Structure from Motion (SfM) software that has become widely available for desktop PCs to generate high resolution photogrammetrical scaled image outputs and 3D models for conservation and archive requirements. Sites like Sketchfab are exciting as we can easily share 3D data and models that may traditionally have ended up just stored on a HD somewhere! Its great value added for clients and allows us to showcase our work and hopefully educate the wider heritage community and engage the public.



(Iconem) #15

Hi all, an other application for scanning cultural heritage : We are a
french company, iconem, working on heritage in danger, trying to save
the memory of sites in several countries like Afghanistan, Uzbekistan,
Pakistan Syria etc...
Unfortunately, this Buddha from Afghanistan you can
see here
scanned in 2010, is not anymore in this state of conservation. That why
keeping a trace of this, and sharing it on the web is useful.
We will add other models soon...

(Archeo Pablo) #16

I'm using the models to use it as a base for virtual reconstructions, for example. Also as archaeological and heritage documentation. smile

(Archeo Pablo) #17

Here is one of my works: I hope you like it! Is not laser scan, is photogrammetry.

(Tauricity) #18

I first got into photogrammetry back in 2011 specifically to see if I could scan historical objects. My first scans were of very fragile wax teaching models from Mayo Clinic's Historical Unit, in Rochester, MN. Turn of the century, I think. They were mostly in boxes, a few on display. (Being southern MN they have a whole set on farming accidents. Seriously.)

Heart and Lung by John Fino (tauricity) on Sketchfab

I was so happy when Sketchfab started - trying to host my own 3d files on my website was a pain in the ass.

And honestly, though I presented my results at a conference in 2011, I did it mostly to see if I could do it - I started by making a homemade laser scanner, then tried an open-source structured light solution (both failed miserably). Finally I found photogrammetry and haven't looked back. Photogrammetry has gotten so very, very good in the past few years.

For the wax models I took a high-poly 123D catch model, retopo-ed it in Blender, then painted the images back on - I got a photorealistic model and at only a few thousand polys, it is viewable on any device. Suffice it to say, it was a ton of work.

(Andersgutehall) #19

@abbyec I will (try to remember to) send you information when the article is published. The swedish version (a little more simple written since it is a appendix to the excavation report) with images can be downloaded from my page.
Your work in Gabii looks interesting, I will take a closer look at the web page!

(Tai Pinc) #20

Hi everyone

I began making models while on a preservation workshop on the village Lifta outside Jerusalem, Israel. I uploaded just a few of the models here:

Lifta is a Palestinian village which was deserted at the beginning of 1948 (part of the displacement of Palestinians called The Nakba). It was inhabited by Israelis for some time, but remained deserted since the 1970's. It is now perhaps the only deserted Palestinian village in Israel that has remained mostly intact. But it is very damaged and keeps on falling apart, since it's not being preserved.

A plan for development including hotels, high-class residential complex and a lot of roads and retaining walls is now being pushed. Activists, both Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims, have gathered in order to cancel these plans.

I'm a student at the Bezalel Academy for Art and Design in Jerusalem, which is taking part in this struggle against the plan. Part of what we're doing is to document the place, trying to show the significance of it as an heritage site, above any national story, as it is.

We have a website (in hebrew only, sorry), but you can see the models embedded in it here: (just a few)

Hope it was interesting for any of you.