Virtual Design Analysis Group is a division of NVentum, LLC.

This unique collaborative endeavor; to utilize the latest reality capture technology to document the artifacts, buildings and campus of History San Jose, provides opportunities for private sector, non-profits and institutions of higher education to work together to solve some of today's most pressing engineering issues. The protocol for retrofitting as-built historic facilities and the use of new technologies to preserve our most prized historic treasures are vital to the continued success and expanded influence of our museums.
This blog will document the challenges and successes of this ambitious, one of a kind project.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Digital Preservation of Historic Artifacts.

Among Thousands of Artifacts
at the History Park;
Photo of St James Hotel, cir.1890
So Far...
The post on this blog have focused heavily on the documentation of historic buildings, the creation of a 3D model of the History Park and possible uses for the completed 3D model. Though one of  the early stated goals of this project was the documentation of the museum's 50,000+ artifacts, there hasn't been much discussion about the processes we intend to employ. In fact, artifact documentation will be the most challenging aspect of the entire project.  The unique nature of this collection requires some innovative strategies for digital documentation and exhibition.
Traditional Digital Documentation
Technology May Be Appropriate For
Some Artifacts
Given NVentum's affinity for and expertise in laser scanning technology, one would assume that the majority of the documentation would be done with lasers of some type. What makes this project so unique is the diversity, size and scope of the History San Jose collection. This unique collection requires a plan that integrates a variety of techniques and technologies to properly document the museum's artifacts and property. The museum's collection varies from electronic devices to clothing; from paintings and manuscripts to automobiles and kitchen utensils. Laser scanning technology may be appropriate for the documentation of some artifacts, however multiple approaches and techniques will be necessary to complete the task at hand.
The vast majority of the museum's artifacts are stored in the museum's collection center, unavailable for exhibition and unseen by the public. A major objective of this project is to enable the public to view these historic items. The museum's ability to display and exhibit these artifacts is limited by the amount of exhibit

Tubes from the Deforest Collection - 1920

space available on the property.  A virtual, online exhibition has no such limitations. The 3D documentation of these artifacts will provide the foundation for future online exhibits that would otherwise occupy space in a warehouse, away from view of the public.
The documentation of the historic buildings and grounds is a relatively simple task in comparison to documenting the museum's artifacts. Laser scanning technology has been developed specifically for construction, design and surveying applications. The creation of a 3D model of the park and its' buildings won't be a first. If you go to YouTube, you can can see 3D laser scans of all types. The difference in this project can be found in its "layers". Starting with comprehensive documentation, this project includes BIM, asset management, exhibition,  marketing, preservation and sales.
NDI Vicrascan
Handheld Laser Scanner
The documentation of the History Museum's artifacts presents several inherent problems. As mentioned in previous blog posts, laser scanning technology has limitations when it comes to artifacts with extremely high levels of reflectivity or extremely low levels of reflectivity. Given these facts, we have pinpointed some items of concern within the museum collection. Discussions about the type of techniques available and possible answers/solutions to new challenges have begun in detail. If we choose to use laser scanners, how will we address the highly reflective chrome handle bars of the museum's antique Harley Davidson Motorcycles? When documenting antique clothing, is there a benefit in laser scanning vs HD photography? There are dozens of questions that immediately come to mind when discussing the documentation of artifacts.

1913 Deforest RJ4 Detector Box

1946 Harley Davidson
FARO Laser Scanner
Photo of Lefebvre Bicycle Taken w/Fisheye lens

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