University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Mapping the museum: artefacts to hand - A 3D tablet interactive visualisation, reaching from the museum into the showcases
Maria Doriana De Padova

Last modified: 2011-12-17


Mapping the museum” is a museum visualisation system running on tablet devices, enabling selective fruition of historical and archaeological data on the iPad platform.

The experiment has been led, as a proof of concept, with the partnership of ComPart Multimedia (an Italian company, which developed the device software) and the “Museo Nazionale del Ducato di Spoleto”, Perugia - central Italy.

The museum was inaugurated in 2007, inside an evocative fortress, and extends over more than 1000 square meters with 15 halls arranged on two floors. The works of art on exhibit there date back from the 4th to the 15th Centuries AD, documenting the transition from the Roman age to late antiquity. The museum collection includes sarcophagi and gravestone inscriptions, together with floor mosaics, 6th Century AD sculptures, or artefacts belonging to places of worship from the Lombard Ages. The paintings section includes Romanesque works of art as well as some lesser known Italian Renaissance masterpieces. This project, focusing on the precious grave goods exhibited in the showcases and on the massive reliefs dominating the museum halls, aims at a user-friendly visualisation for a wide range of users.

The final result is interactive fruition of the museum and its exhibited items, by means of surrounding views, videoclips, HD photos, virtual reconstructions and text contents.

The application guides and accompanies users in a 3D-360° content exploration through the museum halls. Several markers identify points of interest: tapping on them, a 360° view of the hall or videos or a 3D reconstruction of an item is allowed. With only a few taps, ancient artefacts take shape on a tablet right at a finger’s touch, allowing a dynamic and comprehensive experience of the museum. All the minute features of small finds or sculpted stones can be explored by users just rotating them or zooming at the required level of detail.

The framework was developed using Xcode for tablet software, Blender for 3D reconstruction, and photo stereo matching software for 3D visualisation of the artefacts, using professional cameras, still sets and lighting for the shootings.

New generation tablet and mobile technologies are among the most promising ways to enhance the visiting experience in museums, and sometimes to reproduce selected contents remotely; their enthusiastic adoption by the general public makes them suitable vehicles for such an experiment. The innovative idea of this project consists in the opportunity to explore the museum, and to handle exhibited items, from the smallest find to the sarcophagus, enjoying fine detail views, thanks to the tablet technology mixed to open source software.

The main goal of the project is an application dedicated to museums, but portable to several other research fields. It reinterprets museum items in a digital format, allowing ease of navigation, with no lack of accuracy. Portable devices are becoming every day a more promising means of making complex data available to public audiences, who can enjoy full sight of interesting objects at will and according to their preferences.



Museum; Tablet; iPad; Blender; Photo Stereo Matching; Interactive; 3D Reconstruction