Most objects in the collections of cultural history museums can only be observed from the outside. However, the inside of the objects, which we cannot see, often contains a wealth of information about the making of the objects and their condition. Using 3D scanning techniques, such as CT scanning, these hidden traces can be visualized: finger prints of the maker that can be seen inside the clay, tool marks that tell us about the tools that have been used to craft the object, year rings inside wooden panels that can be used for dating, etc.
The standard 3D scanning techniques have never been developed with these applications in mind, and often yield poor image quality when applied to cultural heritage objects. In the IMPACT4Art project, we will develop novel algorithms and software that will enable us to create accurate 3D images of a broad range of museum objects, making scans within the walls of the museum. The software will automatically detect patterns that provide information about the origin and condition of the object. The work will be carried out in close collaboration between data scientists and experts on the Rijksmuseum collection.
A computer generated image of an ivory Chinese Puzzle ball (Kanton, 1800-1825, Rijksmuseum). CWI’s flexray scanner was used to acquire a 3D image of the ball, and novel algorithms were developed to detect hidden patterns in the data. Image: CWI