From Indiana University in Bloomington:
A cooperative agreement between Indiana University and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, will result in an unprecedented initiative to digitize in 3-D the museum’s entire collection of 1,250 pieces of irreplaceable Greek and Roman sculpture.
The project between the Uffizi, one of the oldest and most renowned art museums in the world, and IU’s Virtual World Heritage Laboratory will create high-resolution 3-D digital models of the Uffizi sculptures and make them freely available online by IU’s bicentennial in 2020. The Uffizi collection is located at the gallery as well as the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, other famous cultural sites in Florence.
The 1,250 works of art comprise the third largest collection of its kind in an Italian state museum. Largely assembled by the Medici family from the 15th to the 18th centuries, the sculptures include some of the most admired classical antiquities in the history of art, notably the Medici Venus, the Medici Faun, the Niobids and the Ariadne.
Until recently, the 3-D digitization of complex organic forms such as the human body lagged far behind that of simpler geometric shapes such as rooms, buildings and cities, Frischer said. Work in his laboratory has demonstrated that complex organic forms of the human body can be accurately recorded and digitally reproduced, while new technological breakthroughs have made it possible to increase the scale of 3-D data capture at a fraction of the time and expense previously required, without sacrificing accuracy or visual quality.
“We are confident that we will be able to meet the challenges posed by our new project at the Uffizi,” Frischer said. “Our ultimate goal is not simply to record the current state of ancient monuments but to digitally restore the monuments to their ancient appearance and to put them back into their reconstructed ancient context, where they can stimulate new insights about how art reflected and helped shape a people’s deepest cultural values.”
The five-year project between Indiana University and the Uffizi will include training IU informatics and art history students in the techniques of 3-D data capture, digital modeling and interactive online publication; creating a limited number of 3-D restoration models of works of sculpture of interest to individual project participants; and publishing the 3-D models on several online sites, including the Italian Ministry of Culture’s internal conservation database, the Uffizi’s public website and the Virtual World Heritage Laboratory’s publicly available Digital Sculpture Project.