Archive | October, 2011

Successful opening of the exhibitions

22 Oct

Logo of the double exhibition Etruscans: Eminent Women, Powerful Men

On October 13, 2011, the double exhibition  Etruscans was opened in Amsterdam in the aula of the University of Amsterdam, attended by 700 people, including a large Italian delegation, with representatives of the museums that cooperate in these exhibitions and the Etruscanning team.


Academic opening of the Etruscans exhibition in the aula of the University of Amsterdam (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

This academic session was opened by Wim Hupperetz, director of the Allard Pierson Museum and coordinator of the Etruscanning project, which created for these exhibitions an interactive VR application to explore the Regolini-Galassi tomb through natural interaction.  The exhibition in the Allard Pierson Museum focuses on “Powerful Men“.  Images of the setup in Amsterdam can be found in the previous blog entry.

WIm Hupperetz

Presentation by Wim Hupperetz (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

On October 14, 2011, the exhibition on Etruscans opened in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, focused on “Eminent Women“.   As the Etruscanning VR application shows the Regolini-Galassi tomb, in which both a leading woman and man were buried, it is shown in both exhibitions.  Below are two images showing the setup in Leiden during the evening of the opening in which around 1300 people visited the museum.


A young museum visitor using the Etruscanning VR application in RMO Leiden (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)


The interactive projection of the Regolini-Galassi tomb attracts a lot of visitors (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

Currently, the interactive virtual reality application in both museums is shown with storytelling in Dutch.  An English version of the narration has been recorded and an Italian version is being prepared for recording.  Both versions will be shown at the ArcheoVirtual exhibition at the Borsa Mediterranea del Turismo Archeologico (Nov 17-20, 2011, in Paestum, Italy).

The Etruscanning research continues, on the digital restoration of the objects, on their optimal representation in a real time 3D system and on the use of gestures to select and manipulate objects.  An updated version of the application, providing more focus on the digitised museum objects, will be shown at the Museum Night in Amsterdam on Nov 5, 2011.  We hope to show a gesture based version in both exhibitions by January 2013.

During 2012, a second Etruscan tomb will be reconstructed and visualised with the same approach.  Interactive VR visualisations of both tombs and their objects will be integrated in a prestigious exhibition on Etruscan culture in the Gallo-Roman museum of Tongeren, Belgium in January 2013.

The development of museum VR installations based upon natural interfaces, such as this Etruscanning project, is an exciting, new way of integrating interactive 3D into museums and exhibitions.  CNR-ITABC developed a very first version of this technology in the temporary exhibition Colors of Giotto (video) with a lot of success.  The assessment of the fitness for use and robustness of implementation of this Etruscanning application is carried out by the European Network of Excellence, that focuses on museum technology and virtual museums.  The research is carried out by the Heritage Lab of the Allard Pierson Museum, that is a leading partner within the consortium.

This blog is part of the Etruscanning project, that is been funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.



An Etruscan grave in 3D

11 Oct

Putting the final touch in the exhibition on Etruscans in the National Museum of Antiquities (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

At the exhibitions in Amsterdam and Leiden, the last objects are put in the glass cases, the floor is cleaned and the spots are aligned.  The interactive VR application, showing the reconstructed Regolini-Galassi tomb, has been installed in the Allard Pierson Museum (APM) in Amsterdam and the National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) in Leiden.


Installation of the special projector by TechnoDesk (photo:Daniel Pletinckx)

The most innovative element of the application is the use of a natural interaction interface, which means that the user moves inside the 3D space just by walking around on a map of the tomb.

Etruscanning setup

Etruscanning setup : map, large screen and projector (photo:Daniel Pletinckx)

The public can explore the virtual tomb, see the digital artifacts in close-up, and listen to stories told by the prestigious Etruscan personages that were buried nearly 2700 years ago in the tomb.

Etruscanning setup

Exploring the tomb (photo:Daniel Pletinckx)

All this is possible by moving around in front of the projection, in a simple and natural way.  The user walks on a map of the real grave, attached to the floor, on which some hotspots are indicated.  Changing position from one hotspot to another, one moves also in the virtual space, exploring the tomb and the objects and triggering the storytelling.    This solution not only results in an amazing interaction for the public but allows also people of every age to enjoy the virtual content without any prior knowledge of 3D interaction.

Etruscanning setup

Storytelling through the objects of the tomb (photo:Daniel Pletinckx)

The story is told in the first person by the two people that are buried in the tomb.  They are ghosts, living today and knowing our culture and society, but guiding us around in their tomb just after the burial, speaking from their point of view of Etruscan nobility.  The stories are linked to the objects in the tomb, which are visualised in close-up, highlighted by extra virtual illumination.

Etruscanning setup

Outside view of the Regolini-Galassi tumulus (photo:Daniel Pletinckx)

The image is projected on a large 12 sqm screen from above by a special projector with mirrors, so that the visitor never gets in the way of the projected image.  Together with the physical involvement of the user, this produces a strong sensorial immersivity.

project team in RG tomb

The Etruscanning project team in the Regolini-Galassi tomb (photo:Daniel Pletinckx)

This VR installation in both museums is the first result of a two year multidisciplinary project Etruscanning that will be further developed  by the Allard Pierson Museum, CNR-ITABC and Visual Dimension, in close cooperation with the National Museum for Antiquities of the Netherlands, the Gallo-Roman museum of Tongeren, the Vatican Museums, the Soprintendenza dell’Etruria Meridionale di Villa Giulia and CNR-ISCIMA.

This blog is part of the Etruscanning project, that is been funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


First version of the interactive application

10 Oct

The interactive application, that will be inaugurated in the Allard Pierson museum in Amsterdam on October 13, 2011, and in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden on October 14, 2011, is working.  The application allows to interactively explore the Regolini-Galassi tomb by walking on a map of the tomb.  In the next blog entry, we will explain in detail how the application works.

tomb overview

View when enetering the tomb (image: CNR-ITABC)

This first version of the application shows already about 80 objects that were digitised in the last two months.  More objects will be added in upcoming versions. For digitisaton, several techniques were used. The tomb was digitised by laser scanning. Most objects were hand modelled from new photography that was made by the photographic department of the Vatican Museums.  Some objects (such as the cauldron with griffin heads above) were modelled by automatic photogrammetry from images.  Other objects could rely on physical reconstructions such as the chariot below.


View on the objects in the dromos (entrance) (image: CNR-ITABC)

Many objects need more work, as most objects still need to go through a process of extensive digital restoration to bring them back in their original  state at the moment of the burial.  This includes removal of corrosion and repair of broken or damaged parts. For others, the current reconstruction needs to be revised, based upon the most recent archaeological understanding about these objects (such as the chariot above).

cart and bed

View on the objects in the antechamber (image: CNR-ITABC)

Some objects were the result of extensive digital restoration. The situla for example (see image below) was recreated digitally based upon the current physical restoration.  This recreation was made by simulating the production processes of the object, such as engraving and embossing the sheet of silver that is wrapped around the wooden bucket.


View on the main burial chamber (cella) (image: CNR-ITABC)

For the first time, a visualisation is shown of the woman, buried in the Regolini-Galassi tombe.  Currently, we have limited the visualisation of the objects to the golden pectoral and the golden disc fibula, but future work will add more jewels, and the fibulae and golden leave decoration on the shroud.


View on the deceased princess (image: CNR-ITABC)

A lot of new research was done to concerning the position of the golden disc fibula.  As we could not prove from iconography that the shroud was used to cover the face, and as other research showed that such a fibula was rather placed on the abdomen, we stick in our visualisation to the second hypothesis we have proposed, in favour of placing the fibula on the face (see image below).


View on the disc fibula (image: CNR-ITABC)

A short movie, showing this first version of the VR application in action, can be found here.  The Etruscanning partners will continue to improve the VR application in its current form and develop new ways of visualisation and interaction for the next exhibition in Tongeren, Belgium at the end of 2012.

In the upcoming blogs, we will not only show the installation and the application in action, but also shown more details about the modelling and digital restoration of the objects, and about the storytelling paradigm of the VR application.

This blog is part of the Etruscanning project, that is been funded with support from the European Commission. This blog reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.