Collaborative Futures: The Digital Museum and CFPR


The recent pandemic showed clear evidence that the Cultural Heritage sector could take advantage of new technologies tailored around users and curators to engage people from all backgrounds to allow diversity of audience both in the physical and virtual worlds.

The sector needs to engage with its’ audiences in new ways to become more accessible to the digital generation, to give interactive experiences that are engaging and capture the interest of all audiences – in particular, those with impairments or disabilities.  

To tackle these challenging issues, the CFPR would like to collaborate with like-minded individuals to develop a series of solutions and outcomes that could revolutionise the way people experience cultural heritage in the UK.  

This is a great opportunity for UK based organisations to engage with the CFPR to help formulate ideas that could lead to the development of research and new technologies in the sector.   

If you feel this is something that your business or organisation would like to be involved with, we would love to hear from you.  Please contact us at CFPRinfo@uwe.ac.uk.

We will be hosting a 1 day workshop in Bristol in April 2022 to bring together a mixture of independent stakeholders with researchers from CFPR to drive lateral thinking and radical approaches to address research challenges, generate ideas & work on collaborations with the longer term aim to put together potential funding bids.

Event Format:

Initially this will be a 1-day workshop in April 2022 with a potential follow up event at a later stage.

This workshop will have a highly multidisciplinary mix of participants, some active researchers and other potential users of research outcomes. They are cross-disciplinary and team based. The event will be run by an external facilitator with support from the CFPR Academic Lead who will be on hand to explain our research to non-experts.

The process can be broken down into:

·         Defining the scope of the issue

·         Agreeing a common language and terminology amongst diverse backgrounds and disciplines.

·         Sharing understanding of the problem participants’ expertise.

·         Using creative and innovative thinking techniques to focus on a problem.

·         Turning workshop outputs into a research project/bid (KTP, research council, EU and Innovate funding routes)

This workshop will focus on the Cultural Heritage sector using CFPR’s research as a starting point. The themes are:  

  • Increasing accessibility for the partially sighted or blind
  • 3D / 2.5D Digitisation of cultural heritage
  • Archiving the digital print as an artwork for Museums and Galleries

More information on CFPR research in this field

The UNESCO4ALL TOUR project was undertaken with the aim of producing replicas to be displayed at UNESCO World Heritage sites to aid visually impaired audiences. The scope of the research was to develop accessible, innovative, transnational cultural tourism products and experiences by integrating tactile exploration with audio data for this target audience.

Researchers tested a high-tech “ring” detection of Near Field Connectivity (NFC) tags integrated into 3D printed artefact replicas. NFC sensors located on tactile surfaces are triggered to communicate wirelessly with a smart device (through an app for tablets or mobile phones).

A team at the Centre for Print Research (CFPR) led by Fabio D’Agnano found innovative solutions for the production of three dimensional models for tactile exploration. This required translating real objects into digital models through photogrammetry, digital 3D modelling and digital sculpting.  Digital models were then built using a variety of materials and techniques including Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) routing, laser cutting and engraving, and resin 3D printing. One of the main challenges was to create a precise replica of an artefact, of considerable size and at reasonable expense. In addition the material used needed to be easy to maintain and pleasant to touch.

3D Scanner

Dr Xavier Aure has been developing a 3D surface scanner:  workflows and processing algorithms. This project approaches the 3D digitisation of artefacts in a novel combination of methods to guarantee a scientific workflow when digitally capturing and processing data. Dr Aure has prototyped a scanner that tests a new affordable imaging system to document, investigate and share artworks.  With growth in demand for high level 3D assets for virtual and augmented reality applications, gaming and cinematography, there is an opportunity to lead the future in photorealistic cultural heritage content creation. His research will contribute and facilitate the generation of high-quality replicas and will raise public awareness of preservation of artefacts. The research finding will also inform the potential of the scanning methodology for use in other industrial and commercial applications.

Reimagining heritage for a more colourful present

Digital technologies play a vital role in the documentation and preservation of cultural heritage, while the use of both high-resolution imaging and analytical equipment has become the norm in the study of ancient artefacts. As a counterpart, there is a thriving development of applications based on 3D printing for the reproduction of complex artefacts, whereas 2.5D printing methods continue to be improved with the purpose of rendering accurately surface colours and fine details.

Researchers in the CFPR have been investigating the relationships between material processes for creating and reproducing appearances, the notions of integrity and authenticity in heritage, and the significance of materiality in artefacts as context dependent. By reproducing the appearance of Mesoamerican polychrome artefacts and wall reliefs documented by early female archaeologists, a range of printmaking methods, 2.5D printing, digital arts and their material aspects are explored, expanding the potential of hybrid printing technology for public engagement in the 21st century and reflecting on how the heritage industry adapts to social changes including decolonisation processes and the inclusion of gender perspective in research.

Professor Stephen Hoskins has over 20 years’ experience of developing and testing methodologies for the integration of fine art practice, digital methods and wide format digital printing.  He has extensive experience of working with major artists, art museums and galleries, university schools of art and design, paper manufacturers and digital print companies to explore how information technology can be used in support of the digital print: its creation, preservation and communication. His expertise is in exploring new methods of processing digital images and developing ways of achieving permanence for digitally printed works of art, including, pioneering new methods of printing, the testing of suitable inks that resist fading and that enable more faithful colour matching to the original artwork.

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