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The use of the SMARTTECH3D scanner for digitizing historic stove tiles

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

3D scanning of restored medieval and Renaissance stove tiles for the Museum of the Origins of the Polish State in Gniezno

In January 2015, The Museum of the Origins of the Polish State in Gniezno presented the collection of historic stove tiles restored by the institution. The collection includes objects from the 15th and 20th centuries, but the gothic and renaissance artifacts from the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, discovered in Janków Dolny near Gniezno, are particularly valuable. They are covered by very well-preserved ornaments, which are a source of knowledge about the culture and art of that period for the researchers. The faces of the tiles bear both the knightly families` coats of arms, and allegorical scenes, often inspired by the Bible or folklore of that time.

3D scanning for protection of national heritage objects

The restored stove tiles represent an important historical source, and at the same time are objects of fascination for people interested in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance culture. For that reason, the decision was made to obtain digital versions of some tiles to make them available for the public. The project co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, aimed at digitalizing the artifacts, covered two stages. At first, objects were photographed from all six sides. The second phase of creating virtual documentation included the creation of colorful three-dimensional models. A 3D scanner produced by our company was a perfect tool for this purpose.

Measurements were made with the use of a device from MICRON3D color series with resolution of 24 MP. This choice made it possible to accurately reproduce the complex structure of the surface while obtaining texture with appropriate aesthetic values. SMARTTECH3Dmeasure, proprietary software for the scanner, was used to operate the scanner.

Virtual copies with precise color and texture reproduction

One of the key requirements of the Museum towards virtual exhibits is the accurate reproduction of not only the geometry of the tiles, but also their color and texture. This issue turned out to be particularly important regarding digitalization of Renaissance exhibits with multicolored patterns. The solution provided by SMARTTECH3D easily coped with this task.

Below are some examples of the results of research conducted by SMARTTECH3D for the Museum of the Origins of the Polish State in Gniezno:

3D digitization for virtual research on artifacts

Virtual copies of the collection owned by the Museum can be used in several ways.

First, they facilitate research on the culture of a given period. They eliminate the need to work on real artifacts and relieve the researchers from keeping in mind the strict rules related to storing of artifacts. As a result, research can be conducted with much less time and money. Additionally, thanks to the tools available in SMARTTECH3Dmeasure, obtained triangle meshes can be analyzed much more precisely, than with the use of traditional measurement methods. The user has the option of, among others, creating virtual cross-sections through model, calculating surface area and volume of whole object or chosen part and what is the most essential conducting any measurements without necessity to have original objects itself.

Digitized collections can also be easily made available to other museums as a part of cooperative initiatives, strengthening ties between cultural institutions. This gives smaller museums the opportunity to present interesting exhibits that would otherwise be impossible to find. The obtained triangle meshes can be made available to visitors both as virtual models to be viewed on computer stations, as well as in the form of faithful replicas copied with the use of 3D printers.

Virtual, publicly available models of some collections can also be used as marketing materials, which will help the Museum reach a wider audience with its offer.

Education also gains a lot from universal access to virtual exhibits. Younger students get a chance to look at artifacts that they would not normally have access to, for example because of the distance from their place of residence to the Museum. On the other hand, history students have the opportunity to supplement the knowledge acquired during classes with contact with real exhibits without having to visit dozens of museums.

Check how the 3D digitization process of stove tiles was carried out:

Read more about Gniezno museum:


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