As part of the development of a new permanent Egyptian exhibition, The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm is making their collection of mummies available in digital form for the first time. Within this project mummies from the museum’s collection have been digitized in 3D using the latest 3D reality capture technology and have then been made available to museum visitors through an interactive exhibition experience using the Inside Explorer Table and trough a number of 3D prints.
This project aim to inspire and set a new standard for how museums work with 3D digitization, interactive visualization and 3D printing to make collections more accessible to other museums, researchers and museum visitors. In this project we worked with mummies, but the same methods could of course be used on any objects, such as natural history objects and other historical artifacts.
“The technology will enable our visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the once living man behind the linen bandages. Layer by layer, the visitor can unwrap the mummy and gain knowledge of the individual’s sex, age, living conditions and beliefs. With help from the technology, the mummies become so much stronger mediators of knowledge of our past.”
– Elna Nord, Exhibition Producer, The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm
1. CAPTURE AND EXPLORE THE INTERIOR
The mummies were shipped from the Mediterranean museum in Stockholm to Linköping University Hospital in special crates. The shipping was planned in detail and was overseen by several experts to make sure the mummies were not harmed during the process.
At the hospital the mummies were then scanned in a dual energy Siemens Somatom Definition Flash CT scanner. Special protocols developed by the radiology and forensic experts at CMIV were used to make sure that the mummies were captured in the best way possible. By using a dual energy CT scanner its possible not only to reveal the interior in very high detail, but it it also reveals what type of material objects inside the mummy are made of. The dual energy technique also enables these objects to be visualized individually in greater detail.
2. CAPTURE THE EXTERIOR
Through a collaboration with California-based 3D design, engineering and entertainment software company, Autodesk and industry leading 3D measurement technology company, FARO, the intricate surfaces, colors and textures of the mummy, cartonnage and the sarcophagus was surface scanned using a combination of photogrammetry and laser scanning methods. The data was then processed with Autodesk Memento and the result was a textured surface mesh with extreme detail.
3. CREATING AN INTERACTIVE USER EXPERIENCE
The volumetric data from the CT scanning and the 3D mesh data and textures from surface scanning was combined in the Inside Explorer interactive visualization table, creating a true digital representation of the mummy with a high level of detail.
Museum researchers or visitors is then able to use simple multi-touch gestures to explore the mummy as a whole or zoom in to see fine detail, such as carving marks on the sarcophagus. They can also remove the outer casings, unwrap the mummy and peel off layers from the body to reveal anatomy and artifacts wrapped together with the body.
4. CREATING A TACTILE EXPERIENCE
To make the mummy even more accessible, parts of the digital model have been recreated using 3D printing technology. The 3D printed objects can be used to enhance the visitor experience, in educational activities or to improve access for visually impaired visitors.
One astonishing example of how 3D printing can be used is a golden amulet in the shape of a falcon embedded in the mummy. The Falcon have been digitized CT and then by using a combination of modern printing technology and traditional metal casting, the amulet has been recreated to once again take physical form. Visitors are offered the unique experience to touch, hold and physically explore an exact copy of the golden amulet with their own hands, an amulet that was wrapped with the mummy over 2000 years ago and still remains hidden within its folds.
Visitors are offered the unique experience to touch, hold and physically explore an exact copy of the golden amulet with their own hands, an amulet that was wrapped with the mummy over 2000 years ago and still remains hidden within its folds.
SEE IT IN ACTION
The final result of this project is currently presented at:
- The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities (Medelhavsmuseet)
- Science Center Singapore
- The Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA)
The content is possible to license trough Interspectral, read more here.
A selection of media:
National Geographic, ES, “Crean una reproducción digital de una momia”
Fast Company, “Museum Invites Visitors To Unwrap A Mummy, Virtually”,
The Verge, “Museum lets visitors ‘digitally unwrap’ an Egyptian mummy”,
BBC News, “The digital unwrapping of the Egyptian priest Neswaiu”
The Creators Project, “New Exhibition Allows Visitors To Digitally Explore The Insides Of Ancient Mummies”
Ny Teknik, “3d-skrivare visar mumiens skatt” (Swedish)
Bright.NL, “In Zweden kan je mummies digitaal uitpakken” (Dutch)
International Business Times, “Want to See What’s Inside an Egyptian Mummy’s Bandages? Now You Can Digitally Unwrap it”
Autodedesk – Its Alive in The Labs – “Autodesk Gallery Exhibit: Inside Explorer Table”
Svenska Dagbladet, “Uppfriskande vinkel på Egypten”
Wired UK, “Digitised mummies go on display in Stockholm”, 20140222
Shanghai Daily, “When 3D digitalization meets Egyptian mystique”, 2014022
SVT (Video), “Inuti sarkofagen”, 20140222
DN, “Nu träder mumierna fram i 3D”, 20140222
Autodesk – Its Alive in the Lab, “Autodesk Gallery Exhibit: Inside Explorer Table”
Digital Meets Culture, “Mummies virtually unwrapped in Sweden”
International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Work, “Medelhavsmuseet mummies to be revealed in 3D”
United Press International – “Swedish museum to let visitors virtually ‘unwrap’ mummies”
Club Innovation & Culture France, “Les visiteurs du Medelhavsmuseet de Stockholm vont découvrir des momies égyptiennes grâce à la 3d”
Museum Association, “Museum Practice”
Radio Sweden, “Peering into a mummy without unwrapping it”, 2014022
Metro.se, “De avslöjar vad som gömmer sig i mumien”, 20130613 (Swedish)
SVT, “Ny röntgenteknik kartlägger mumier”, 20130502 (Swedish)
BBC News,”Museum visitors can ‘unwrap’ a mummy”, 20130628
Wired UK, “Swedish museum digitises Egyptian mummies”, 20130628
The Guardian, “Bringing mummies back to life in Sweden – in pictures”, 20130717
Le Point.fr, “Les momies égyptiennes débarquent en 3D (dans vos musées)”, 20130714
Huffington Post, “It’s Alive! Stocholm Museum Brings Mummies To Life In 3D”, 20130710
Spiegel Online, “Mumien auswickeln wie die Profis”, 20130708
Daily Mail Online, “3D scan of the cartonnage of the mummy Neswaiu”, 20130704