3D-Modelling: Curation and Commercialisation

***Catherin Woods, Catherine Jenkins, Claudia Salaru Ma and Eleonora Winger***


We took a collaborative approach to writing the blog, consisting of a virtual meetup to discuss ideas and co-edit our accounts in a shared Google Doc. Selections from the chat transcript below show our thought process. We agreed to focus on the 3D-modelling aspect after each identifying an item of interest that we could focus on and develop further in our individual sections.

Chat Transcript

Catherine Jenkins: Hello!

Eleonora Winger: Hey Catherine,

It’s such a great idea that you set up the Doc.

I’ve started writing a little bit below (Group Blog) – just some ideas. We can change and delete it, in case you want to write about another topic.

Catherine Jenkins: Excellent idea to focus on the 3D modelling and printing! As it is such a new concept and will present challenges for LIS people in terms of cataloguing – it will have advantages and disadvantages I guess. Thank you!

Eleonora Winger: You’re most welcome. I hope the others will like the topic as well.

Catherine Jenkins: Cathi is on her way!


Cathi Woods has opened the document.

Cathi Woods: Hi ladies

Catherine Jenkins: Hello! Sorry it was so complicated!

Eleonora Winger: Hey Cathi

Cathi Woods: no probs, my laptop is set up to my own gmail!! that’s where it got confused.

Catherine Jenkins: Eleonora has added a lovely piece on page 2 about the 3D modelling aspect, which might be a good focus, as it’s quite new and has advantages/disadvantages?

Cathi Woods: I liked the fact that there can be a revenue stream attached to the 3D printing.

Catherine Jenkins: Saw this by Library of Congress recently, we could look into it more to fulfil the ‘additional research’ part of the brief https://www.loc.gov/preservation/digital/meetings/b2b3d/b2b3d2018.html

Yes great we can discuss the commercialisation aspect further!

Potential blog title: 3D or Not 3D: Commercialisation and Curation (?)

Eleonora Winger: Looks great, Catherine! I think it’s a great topic, which can be exploited. In case, you’d like to switch topic though, that’s fine too. I’m flexible.

I love your blog title. Sounds great!!!

Cathi Woods: Just got your email Eleonora and that looks fab too. WIll have to give it some reading time though.

Eleonora Winger: Thx, Cathi.

Cathi Woods: What are the questions that we want answers to about 3D? answers that we can each take an aspect of?

Catherine Jenkins: Thanks for emailing those sources! We can build a nice reference list 😉

Eleonora Winger: http://www.dirdim.com/lm_everything.htm

Catherine Jenkins: Is 3D worth it? It costs money to e.g. 3D-print a book. But then you will save money on the restoration costs of having a precious book out on display…

Cathi Woods: yes I like that

Eleonora Winger: Sounds great.

Cathi Woods: What are the ethical realities of 3D printed ‘antiques’? can they be sold as ‘fakes’?

Eleonora Winger: How is 3D data visualized?

Catherine Jenkins: Is it ethical? Some people in future, might never get the chance to see a ‘real’ object, if 3D becomes the preferred way of displaying objects. And what is lost when you 3D model an object? I think it was the first guy who spoke, he said something about the back of the real Rosetta Stone not being able to be photographed, because of the case. So then there is a bias there, he skipped over it and got it from the ‘fake’ Rosetta instead

OOo yes Cathi!! A whole black market for fake antiquities!!

Eleonora Winger: The first ever 3D cataloguing of Hatshepsut’s temple

Catherine Jenkins: Yes Eleonora, will be good to look into the visualization options – ties in with Lume perhaps as well? (or is that 4D…)

Eleonora Winger: True, ties in with LUME.

Project Lume
Project Lume is a VR software for scientists to better explore, comprehend and share their 3D point cloud data.

I just found a website: https://www.lumevr.com/?ref=producthunt

I also quite liked Cyreal: https://www.cyreal.com/process

Cathi Woods: So I feel we have done our thoughts from the day but they need to be a paragraph that melds together. Shall we write that first or last?

I was just looking at the guidelines again…

Eleonora Winger: What do you think would be the best way to do it?

Shall I write a paragraph on LUME and Cyreal and then send it to you?

Cathi Woods: Perhaps a couple of sentences each about our thoughts before and what we expected, then a couple more lines about the one aspect that we liked, enjoyed listening to, then onto another couple of lines each about why we as a group think that focussing on the 3D aspect appealed to us?

Just some thoughts though…

Catherine Jenkins: Haha thank you for confirming it’s def 3D Eleonora! OK, what about: 1. Thoughts from the day, we could do it like an ‘interview transcript’, with our names, as the opening paragraph? Then 4 new paragraphs after it, one written by each of us, expanding on other possibilities.

yes I like that Cathi! your idea is way better 🙂

Eleonora Winger: I love both of your ideas!!! You can decide which stance we’ll take. xxx

Cathi Woods: that’s only the first paragraph though… I like your idea about the 4 paragraphs one written by each of us expanding on other possibilities.

Eleonora Winger: Me too. Shall I write my paragraph on LUME and Cyreal?

Cathi Woods: so that’s 250 words to into

150 words each to explain

then another 250 to conclude

125 each

maths never was my strong point!!! lol

that doesn’t sound like a lot!

Catherine Jenkins: Sounds good! yes please Eleonora, that would be great if you would like to write yours on LUME

We can use this chat record for the intro, it kind of contains all of our thoughts in motion 🙂


Catherine Jenkins: Cathi, would you like to write yours on the possible sale of fakes? To tie in with the unintended consequences/dark side of commercialisation? And I could write mine on bias


Cathi Woods: brilliant idea! I would love to explore the dark side!!


Cathi Woods: OK Cath… Tech Wizard…. How do I save this conversation????

Catherine Jenkins: I can copy and paste this chat into the main document body. We can add our paragraphs to it as and when they are done 🙂 You can download this Google Doc and open it in Word as a normal, non-live document – go to File (top left corner), then ‘Download as’, then choose Microsoft Word.


More often discussed in the context of STEM, reproducibility is of increasing relevance to cash-strapped museums. Sharing the underlying code for 3D-modelling programmes and documenting procedures in open access repositories like GitHub can better support the physical preservation of items.

However, 3D has a fourth dimension: the ethical. Considering the commercial opportunities for 3D models, it may be tempting to doctor objects so that they “show their best side”. I am thinking in particular of partnerships with video-game producers, who may be interested in embedding museum-originated 3D objects in their virtual worlds. If Rockstar Games, the publishers of Red Dead Redemption – an object-oriented game which incorporates a detailed inventory of realistic items, replicas of which are themselves sold as physical merchandise to fans – were to sponsor such bespoke modelling, a conflict of interest between faithful replication and bias towards aesthetic properties could arise.

The involvement of funders in monetising the 3D re-interpretation of objects is not the only issue in the shift to 3D. Public-engagement projects like the Clay, Marble and Pixels workshops, while laudable in their aims to enable open access to museum holdings, run the risk of spreading confusion: attendees are advised to use the software to ‘generate amusing historical paradoxes, featuring, for example, modern furniture in ancient buildings, or placing Victorian coaches in prehistoric cities’. While such combinations are doubtless ‘amusing’, museums developing a 3D offering should maintain accuracy and reproducibility at the forefront of projects. If this responsibility is not recognised and encoded in 3D practices as a precedent, I fear 3D-modelling will not be “ready for its close-up” as an innovative technology of real benefit to GLAM.


Being Human: A Festival of the Humanities (2018). ‘Clay, Marble and Pixels’. <https://beinghumanfestival.org/event/clay-marble-and-pixels-the-house/> (Accessed 25 November 2018).
England, E. (2017). ‘Using Three-Dimensional Modeling to Preserve Cultural Heritage’. <https://blogs.loc.gov/thesignal/2017/01/using-three-dimensional-modeling-to-preserve-cultural-heritage/> (Accessed 25 November 2018).
Gerstenblith, P. (2016). ‘Technology and Cultural Heritage Preservation’, in Wallace, A. and Deazley, R. (eds) Display At Your Own Risk: An experimental exhibition of digital cultural heritage. <https://displayatyourownrisk.org/gerstenblith/> (Accessed 25 November 2018).
Miller, O. (2014). ‘Collecting Library Resources for Video Game Design Students: An Information Behavior Study’, in Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America 33, no. 1, pp. 129-146.
Museum in a Box (2018). <http://www.museuminabox.org/> (Accessed 25 November 2018).
Rockstar Games (2018). ‘The first set of collectibles from the #RDR2 Outlaw Essentials Collection are now available’. <https://twitter.com/RockstarGames/status/1064587384145264640/photo/1> (Accessed 25 November 2018).


Doubtless, 3D modelling appears to be the future, as it enhances and improves the sharing and visualization of data. In addition it can be exploited, as it provides room for projects and new ideas.

Project Lume: Visualization of 3D Data on a grand scale

At the BL Labs Symposium, I was particularly fascinated of Project LUME, the ‘world’s first multi-user VR software’, which was designed to ‘better explore, comprehend, manipulate and share 3D point cloud data’ (Project LUME, 2018). During the talk, Alexandre Kitching (Kitching, 2018), the CEO and co-founder of Project LUME also mentioned the special collaboration with Cambridge University and described the project, as a ‘virtual reality platform for scientific exploration and collaboration’. What is more, is, that LUME ‘allows users to rediscover data’, by merely ‘dragging and dropping it into the VR’ (Project LUME, 2018). Furthermore, the data can be ‘brought to life’, with the aid of vive controllers and then ‘measured, selected and shared’ (Project LUME, 2018). In addition to the aforementioned factors, LUME can ‘navigate the world and control aesthetic output’ (Project LUME, 2018). At first, LUME seemed very surreal and it was hard to get my head around this rather abstract concept. At second sight, however, I think it’s ingenious and definitely brilliant, as it already helped to combine and discover medical data related to diabetes (Kitching, 2018). It has thus been a huge aid to patients, suffering from diabetes. Henceforth, LUME is, as the name already suggests, a tool that has the potential to bring a little light into the world and renders our planet a better place.

Kitching, Alexandre (2018). BL Labs Symposium presentation.
Project LUME (2018). <https://www.lumevr.com/?ref=producthunt>, accessed 23 November, 2018.
3D Visualization (2018). <http://www.djisvms.com/use-3d-visualization/>, accessed 23 November 2018.


The two main purposes for 3D technologies in museums are to enhance accessibility and educational experiences, and repatriation to the country of origin.

Recently in the Guardian newspaper Simon Jenkins wrote an article countering the method that museums must have the ‘original’ by any means necessary. His opinion is that “Museums love the word ‘authenticity’”, but at what cost politically (Jenkins, 2018)?

Whilst visiting the British Museum myself this past week to see the Ashburnipal exhibition I witnessed the the Easter Islanders tearfully request their statue held in the British Museum be repatriated as keeping it decried that the museum has their ancestor and therefore their ‘soul’ (Jenkins, 2018). Should a polystyrene or 3D printed copy to be made and displayed in the BM whilst the original was returned, as long as it was advertised as such this would then meet the ICOM recommendation at least (ICOM, 2010, p. 2). However, would the public visit our museums if they only saw facsimiles of originals, and were still told not to touch? On the same day I saw the “ancient obelisk that forms the focus of the British Library’s current Anglo-Saxon exhibition [however, this] is made of polystyrene”, an exhibition that found me in my element, yet we were asked to refrain from taking photos at the British Library exhibit but encouraged at the British Museum, which I found rather odd.

When told that we would be visiting the British Library Symposium I was unaware of what one of these actually was, it sounded impressive and I told my non-library friends that I was going, and they were equally impressed until they asked what it was. I did not know what to expect. I thought there would be speakers from a variety of LIS related fields. This was not far from the truth. The discussion around 3D modelling piqued my interest from a School Librarian point of view, we have a 3D printer in school and now I had a reason to commandeer it, for education purposes only you understand? Printing a 3D Viking longboat or an Egyptian Sphinx for students is a great way of bringing lessons to life.

On the theme of bringing lessons to life… The artist, Richard Wright’s lightning talk on the “Elastic System; How to judge a book by its cover” was by far my favourite presentation. The intricate use of 3D rendering a book shelf then using that to create a picture of interactive individual books that resembled Thomas Watts, which, if borrowed, removed themselves from the picture and revealed another picture underneath of the archive staff at the British Library. A fascinating and almost Russian Doll style of art, peeling back the layers. Another future project for school?

British Library, 2018. British Library Living Knowledge Blog. [Online]
Available at: https://blogs.bl.uk/living-knowledge/2016/11/the-elastic-system-what-can-you-do-with-a-library.html
[Accessed 25 11 2018].
ICOM, 2010. Original, Copy, Fake, On the significance of the object in History and Archaeology Museums, Shanghai, China: ICOM.
Jenkins, S., 2018. Give the Easter Islanders their statue back – it doesn’t belong in the British Museum. The Guardian, 24 11, p. 1.
Jones, J., 2018. Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms review – barbaric splendour and fierce vision. The Guardian, 21 10.p. 1.
Richard Wright, British Library, 2018. http://www.elasticsystem.net. [Online]
Available at: http://www.elasticsystem.net/
[Accessed 24 11 2018].


The 3D technology revolutionised our lives. The 3D performance has created the possibility of working on different projects. For example, 3D scanning simplifies the process of making an electronic copy of a physical object. The object does not have to be even moved. Small or large pieces digitally transformed keep all their details. The process is ideal to create a prototype, to enlarge or reduce an object.

Moreover, another way of creating 3D models of objects is by using the photogrammetry method. This method uses photographs from different angles and with the help of a computer programme “stitch” them together.

“Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs, especially for recovering the exact positions of surface points. Photogrammetry is as old as modern photography, dating to the mid-19th century and in the simplest example , the distance between two points that lie on a plane parallel to the photographic image plane, can be determined by measuring their on the image, the scale (s) of the image is known.” (Wikipedia)

The Cyreal project has developed a semi-automated platform which controls the photographic process ensuring reliable and consistent data capture.

One real-life example is the “Model of a human brain”, France, 1801-1850, by Science Museum on Sketchfab.


About Joseph Dunne-Howrie

I am artist in residence in the MA/MSc Library and Information Science department at City, University of London and module year coordinator for MA/MFA Performative Writing/Vade Mecum at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance.My research interests include intermediality, live performance in digital culture, participatory and immersive theatre, performance documentation, archives, and performative writing.
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