Oct. 20: Virtual Museums and 3D Reproductions

This week we are exploring how museums can deliver content online and how they share and preserve collections through digital reproductions. This, of course, became especially important as museums around the world dealt with the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. How can museums continue to serve the public without a physical space? Can museums provide compelling content within these tight constraints? And how should museums respond, not just to the pandemic, but also to the social and political moment?

Avi Decter and Ken Yellis suggest we need to move form “best practice” to “next practice.”

Smithsonian Magazine just recently published a new article on how the pandemic will change how museums are built. 

Explore the extensive material collected by the Network of European Museum Organizations. 

Insights from UNESCO and closer to home

Let’s consider some prescient ideas from Carly Straughan. What about Virtual Museums? Have a look through some of the exhibits on The Virtual Museum of Canada, including the 2018 Public History Group Project.

The Smithsonian provides panoramas and there are easy to use and free platforms to create your own virtual museums. Here are just two examples: the Titanic Exhibit and Jessica Chernich’s (Class of 2020) final project.

Then we’ll turn to a discussion of scanning, reproduction, and preservation:

Begin with a quick history of 3D printing form the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Australia.

Take a look at some nice examples of completed 3D scans from the British Museum on Sketchfab.

Have a quick look at a 3D scanning process in action at the Smithsonian, and another fun example of scanning and printing for public engagement from Jamestown, VA.

And finally,  here in London, Ontario there is cutting edge of 3D scanning and printing work underway at Sustainable Archaeology.

Explore Mukurtu, an open source platform that is intended “to empower communities to manage, share, and exchange their digital heritage in culturally relevant and ethically-minded ways.”

The following articles explore some of the theoretical and ethical implications of research using digitized material, as well as exploring non-western perspectives on cultural objects.

Jenny Newell, “Old Objects, New Media: Historical Collections, Digitization, and Affect.” Journal of Material Culture, Vol. 17, No. 3, (2012): 287-306. (On Owl)

Ruth B. Phillips, “The Digital (R)Evolution of Museum-Based Research” (Chapter 15 of Museum Pieces: Toward the Indigenization of Canadian Museums) (On Owl).

Temi Odumosu, “The Crying Child: On Colonial Archives, Digitization, and the Ethics of Care in the Cultural Commons,” Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 21, No. 22 (Oct. 2020): 289-302.

Devon Elliott, Robert MacDougall, William J. Turkel, “New Old Things: Fabrication, Physical Computing, and Experiment in Historical Practice.” Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol 37, No 1 (2012). (On Owl)

What other aspects of materiality can be digitized? William J. Turkel has some ideas: “Hacking History, from Analog to Digital and Back Again” Rethinking History 15.2 (March 2011) 287-296.  (On Owl)

Finally, have a look at former PH student Jessica DiLaurenzo’s discussion of her Photogrammetry project from a couple years ago. The simplest apps she tried are no longer available, but you can try to make your own 3D images using one of the free apps listed here. 

You can also explore the 3D modelling program sketchup.