Artifact Digital Preservation at Mt Rushmore

NPS Staff learn Photogrammetry to create Virtual Museum 3D objects

by Justin Barton
August 29, 2012
This year CyArk has been working closely with our partners at Mt Rushmore National Memorial and Autodesk to digitally preserve artifacts within the park's collection using photogrammetric techniques.

In May 2012 Autodesk and CyArk conducted a first stage test of Autodesk's 123D Catch software by documenting a handful of artifacts, ranging in size, material, and geometry. After a successful experiment, determining the types of objects that worked best (and a few that would not work due to their reflectivity and shine), a long term plan for the continued digital preservation of the wider artifact collection was established.

The next phase just took place in late August and consisted of CyArk working directly with staff from Mount Rushmore and one visiting staff member from Devils Tower. For two days the NPS team worked closely with their new photography equipment and selected artifacts. We covered the best conditions and methods for photographing artifacts of different types and spent time working with the 123D Catch software to process and edit the resulting 3D meshes.

Now, with their new skill set in photogrammetry, the NPS staff will be working to capture data for many of their artifacts. This is building to the next phase of public outreach and education for our five-year Mount Rushmore Digital Preservation project. Next year (2013) CyArk and the NPS will build a new Virtual Museum web portal where these 3D artifact models will reside for viewing and interaction by the public.

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A small leather pouch, part of the artifact collection housed within Mt Rushmore's facilities, but actually from Jewel Cave National Monument. The pouch held string and was used by early mappers of the cave to leave a trail of their path. This image is a screen shot of the 3D mesh created in 123D Catch with photographs.
Justin Barton (CyArk) works with Maureen McGee-Ballinger (Director of Interpretation, Mt Rushmore), helping her register her photographs in 123D Catch to create a 3D mesh model of an artifact.