The 'BEST' 3D scanning setup for a museum

I recently got asked:

Q: If money was no object, what off the shelf 3D scanning setup would you buy for a museum?

Below is the ‘off the top of my head’ reply I gave. What have I left or got wrong in this answer? Please reply to this thread with suggestions!

A: Not a simple question to answer but I’ll do my best :slight_smile: a lot depends on your use case and audience but I will assume you want to make archival quality 3D for the museum’s internal audience (curators, researchers, etc.) as well as optimised 3D ready for public audiences online or in-gallery.

I tried to cover a lot of this in my work on too if you’ve not explored that already.

For general purpose 3D digitization (small to large objects, various materials) I would suggest a combination of workflows:

1. Photogrammetry for general use and the ‘best looking’ results. Gear = whatever cameras your photography team uses processed using Reality Capture running on a beefy PC: 64GB RAM, fastest processors, newest+best graphics cards from Nvidia.

2. Structured light scanning for small to medium sized objects where accuracy is a key factor in the use case, something like the Artec Eva

3. Laser scanning for big/huge objects + spaces, again useful for accurate, measurable results. I have no experience here but always liked the look of the Leica BLK; there are likely more commonly used laser scanners out there.

(BONUS, for the sake of completeness) 4. For really small / detailed / anatomical (or anything when you want to scan internal as well as external detail) Micro-CT or CT scanning is an (expensive) option. (Thanks to Terrie Simmons-Ehrhardt on twitter for flagging this omission)

Using the above you can get the ‘best’ geometry/3D forms with laser + structured light and then combine that with photogrammetry scans for the ‘best’ image texturing. All depends on your use case of course.

I would also factor in at least one dedicated 3D digitisation expert staff member and another 3D modelling expert for the best outputs. A dedicated 3D digitisation space as well as kit for a mobile digitisation suite would also aid the speed and repeatability of digitisation workflows.

I like Małopolska Museums’ approach to staff teams for digitisation, publication + interpretation for 3D; the National Natural History Museum of Santiago, Chile has posted some really nice 3D combining structured light + photogrammetry data; I also really like the work of Historic Environments Scotland + the Scottish Maritime Museum both of whom use various digitisation + modelling techniques to great effect.


Great summary, thanks…
I will surely use this as a reference when starting projects with new institutions.