Revealing ‘Hidden Treasures’ in Cultural Heritage

With 47 people on the waiting list one can say that the meSch related event ‘Museum Engagement and Digital Technologies’ sparked colossal interest. The event was fully booked two months ahead and those cultural heritage and technology enthusiasts who got to participate engaged with emerging 3D printing and laser cutting technologies to learn how this could enhance physical museum objects.

 Exploring ‘Hidden Treasures’

There are many ‘hidden treasures’ associated with museum objects yet to be discovered and 3D printing and laser cutting technologies are the means to realize this discoveries. In some cases, the hidden treasure is the object itself. For example, mummies are usually far too sensitive to display in many settings since the remains can easily be destroyed by the environment. King Tutankhamun’s mummy was replicated through the power of 3D scanning and print technologies; the replicated mummy was then displayed at the Discovery Times Square exhibition in New York. In other cases, 3D printing and cutting technologies are used to reveal hidden narratives associated with museum objects.

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Replica of King Tutankhamun’s mummy – 3D printed by iMaterialise and Gary Staab

In the Smart Replicas project for instance, designer Maaike Roozenburg utilized a 3D printing approach to replicate replicas of her teacup collection. These replicas were not quite like the originals, but enhanced with technology: special markers were printed onto theses replicas so visitors could use a special augmented reality app to explore additional information. Furthermore, visitors could touch the replicas; hence, their tactile experience was heightened. Read more about the Smart Replicas project in a previous meSch post.

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Smart Replicas project – Maaike Roozenburg – the Netherlands

Key questions

Participants of this event engaged in a series of presentations provided by Laura Maye and Tony Canning, as well design exercises aimed to encourage reflections on how such technologies can support engagement in museum objects. How to use 3D printing and laser cutting technologies in museums? The participants were asked this question before engaging them in a specific design activity: they were challenged to devise a scenario around a key from the collection of the Hunt Museum. Questions regarding the importance of materiality and how these technologies can support the original museum objects rather than replace them provided fertile ground for further exploartion.

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Developing scenarios around a museum object at the event

Where to go from here?

The event was organized by meSch partner Laura Maye from the University of Limerick; it was held on the 30th January at the Hunt Museum, Limerick, Ireland. There will be more events like this in the future: Three workshops (all connected to each other) will take place in Limerick in May, June and July 2014. They will further explore the questions that were raised about 3D printing and laser cutting. Other topics will be discussed in more detail as well, such as the use of software modeling tools.

Would you like to explore with us? Even if you can’t join us in Limerick, feel free to contact laura.maye@ul.ie to discuss the topic with her!