Museums and the Web

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An Interactive Display for the Real-Time Viewing of Virtually Restored Museum Artifacts

TitleAn Interactive Display for the Real-Time Viewing of Virtually Restored Museum Artifacts
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsMcKune, A., Yeung Y. H., McCoy R., Law A., Aliaga D., & Zimmerman L.
Secondary TitleMuseums and the Web 2009. Proceedings
Conference Start Date15/04/2009
PublisherArchives & Museum Informatics
Place PublishedIndianapolis, Indiana, USA
EditorTrant, J., & Bearman D.
Keywordscultural property, Demonstration, three-dimensional projection, virtual restoration

In this demonstration, we introduce and show an interactive display that virtually restores a museum artifact through visual illusion. In this display the object itself will appear different yet it will remain physically unchanged. Additionally, users will have the unique opportunity to compare and analyze the artifact in its current condition and then view it in one of several possible “restored” states.The display is made possible by a computer?based system that projects digitally?controlled light from multiple angles onto the original artifact. In this way, suggestions and inferences can be made as to how historic or ancient artifacts may have looked when they were first created and at other points in their histories. A simple interface provides the ability to quickly switch between the different appearances of the object, providing historians, museum professionals, and scientists with the ability to view multiple states of an artifact without having to physically alter or manipulate the artifact.Our system involves a semi?automatic restoration process to infer an original appearance of the artifact followed by a visual compensation process to project the inferred appearance onto the artifact. During the restoration process, the user only needs to provide guidance for large structural repairs while the software takes the user’s guidance and infers a restoration of the artifact based on its decorative patterns. During visual compensation, the best combination of projector lighting is determined to obtain bright compensations. The amount of light per unit surface area is controlled so as to limit light exposure on the artifact. Finally, because viewers have the benefit of seeing the artifact in three dimensions without needing any special viewing devices or computer screens, they are able to enjoy the natural cues of depth perception, parallax, and physical inspection while examining the virtually restored artifact. We show results of a prototype of this system and will demonstrate the system during the conference by virtually restoring several artifacts in various states of preservation.