Open Data Has Many Forms (part 3): 3D Models

Image Turner Contemporary, installation view

Turner Contemporary, installation view

As previously discussed in part 1, digitised museum artefacts in the form of 3D models of museum artefacts can be  considered ‘open data’ when they are made available online through museum websites and downloadable apps.  Many world-renowned museums already make this possible, but smaller museums can similarly benefit from digitising their collections and presenting their interactive, 3D artefacts online.  In fact, when it comes to increasing smaller museums’ profiles, this type of open data is their best bet for allowing a global audience to become familiar with their purpose and access their collections.

While the process of creating 3D models of museum artefacts may seem daunting, advances in technology have paved the way for more attainable methods that do not require expensive equipment, extensive technical backgrounds, or months of labour.  Recently, the company Autodesk, known for their suite of 3D design software, developed 123D Catch, which allows users to create accurate 3D models from photographs .  Since it’s beta version, they have made great strides in updating their software to accommodate those with no prior background in 3D modelling, making it even easier to create 3D models quickly and accurately.  Just two short years ago when I was using 123D Catch to create 3D models of cultural heritage artefacts, I remember it took several attempts of capturing an artefact before arriving to a suitable 3D model.  It also required taking photos and testing the results in several environments, including indoors and outdoors.  However, in the past couple of months, a colleague used the same software to create 3D models of her sculptures.  She was able to create acceptable 3D models after only two tries, both indoors.  This is just an example of how software is constantly being modified to give the user an optimal experience.

Therefore, museum personnel can be confident that current staff can be utilised to assist with creating 3D models of their artefacts for use on websites and downloadable apps.  This is just one way museums can make their collections open and interactive to a global audience.

Read the previous post: Open Data Has Many Forms (part 1): Ownership of Data

Read the previous post: Open Data Has Many Forms (part 2): Positive Effects