RTI and Art Conservation

Adoption of Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) for museum conservation is expanding. Watch this 23-minute video sponsored by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, filmed at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) to learn how CHI is helping art conservators. Watch the video…

Fine Arts Example

Painting from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco ready for RTI capture

CHI's Kress-sponsored conservation project included the task of imaging seven objects hand-picked by conservators at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. This photo shows one of them, a painting, being readied for an RTI capture session.

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Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) works on projects all over the world. Our projects may be based in the field, at an excavation, in an archaeology laboratory, museum, university, or cultural heritage institution. Recently the CHI team has been focused on applying its core technologies, Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and photogrammetry, in a wide variety of cultural sites and objects.

National Endowment for the Humanities

Rivera mural detail

Capturing High-Resolution 3D Documentation of a Diego Rivera Mural

In December 2015, the CHI team was engaged by City College of San Francisco to digitally document this enormous and culturally important 1940 mural by the Mexican artist. Applying 3D photogrammetry, the CHI team captured the mural in over 2000 images to create a highly detailed 3D representation of it. In June 2020, CHI was awarded a NEH CARES grant that dramatically extends the project by providing digital public access to the mural. More …

National Endowment for the Humanities
Preservation and Access Research and Development Grant

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The Democratization of Scientific Imaging through Metadata Management and Archival Submission Support

This project supports the development and enhancement of internationalized open source software tools for the collection, management, archiving, and sharing of cultural heritage imaging data and associated metadata. The project’s advanced metadata collection software records this context metadata in a “Digital Lab Notebook” (DLN). The pipeline of user-friendly DLN tools greatly simplifies metadata collection, essential to scientific documentary imaging. More …

National Endowment for the Humanities
Preservation and Access Education and Training Grant

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Advanced Imaging Skills for Humanities Collections Professionals

This project funded by NEH, now complete, provided training for humanities collections professionals in computational photography technologies, and disseminated recent advances to the rapidly growing community of users at a 2-day symposium at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This was a collaborative project with seven committed host institutions/collaborators — the Smithsonian Institution's Museum Conservation Institute, Yale University's Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Classics Department at the University of Texas at Austin, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Buffalo State College, and the Met. More …

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) Grant

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Applying Scientific Rigor to Photogrammetric 3D Documentation for Cultural Heritage and Natural Science Materials

In collaboration with several partner consultants and technical advisors, CHI was awarded a Preservation Technology and Training (PTT) Grant from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) in June 2016. The year-long grant will produce advanced metadata and knowledge management tools to record a “Digital Lab Notebook” (DLN), the equivalent of the traditional scientist’s lab notebook, describing the means and context of 3D photogrammetric data capture. More …

El Morro National Monument

team at El Morro

Documenting and Interpreting Petroglyphs and Inscriptions at El Morro National Monument

In June 2015, Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) embarked on a project in collaboration with the US National Park Service and the Center of Preservation Research of the University of Colorado, Denver to capture important inscriptions and petroglyphs at El Morro. Using both RTI and photogrammetry, the CHI team was able to shed light on these mysterious inscriptions and capture large-scale parts of the outdoor site for future research. The data can be used for monitoring the site to watch for changes from environmental wear, and it also serves as high-quality data for the historical record. More …

National Endowment for the Humanities
Digital Humanities Start-up Grant

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Data Sustainability and Advanced Metadata Management for Scientific Imaging

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded a Digital Humanities Start-up Grant of $59,533 to CHI beginning May 1, 2014. This pilot project will evaluate the usability and desirability for subsequent adoption of a new metadata and knowledge management methodology. The project envisions a “digital lab notebook” that will take the form of a user-friendly toolkit to document not only the algorithmic transformation of photographic data, but also the context in which the photographs were created. The project will concentrate on two case studies with the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the University of Texas, Austin. More …

National Science Foundation

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Automated Documentation and Illustration of Material Culture through the Collaborative Algorithmic Rendering Engine (CARE)

The Cyber-enabled Discover and Innovation (CDI-Type1) program of the National Science Foundation awarded a $550,000 grant to CHI in partnership with Dr. Szymon Rusinkiewicz of Princeton University’s Department of Computer Science. The grant enables the Princeton-CHI team to create an open source tool, the Collaborative Algorithmic Rendering Engine (CARE), that will yield accurate rendered drawings from the same photographic data sets that are used in RTI. More …

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
21st Century Museum Professionals (21MP) Grant Program

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Imaging Technology Pathways for Museum Professionals

With a grant from the IMLS of $255,200, CHI was able to deliver 10 training sessions on Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) across the US, for emerging and established museum professionals. The project resulted in freely available tools and training materials for dissemination to the broader museum community. More …

Samuel H. Kress Foundation

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Reflectance Transformation Imaging Conservation School Pilot Program

CHI was awarded a $25,000 grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to fund a pilot program in conjunction with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF). The goal of the pilot program is to produce multimedia content that demonstrates how Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) can be used in the conservation of cultural heritage objects. More …

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT)

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A Comprehensive Training Program for 3D Digital Rock Art Documentation and Preservation

Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI), in collaboration with its partner organizations, was awarded a grant from NCPTT to fund the development of a training program for three-dimensional (3D) digital rock art documentation and preservation. The grant provides essential funding to put techniques of Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) in the hands of archaeology and conservation professionals through training, video podcasts, do-it-yourself guides, and online materials, in an economical and comprehensive program. More …

Training and Collaboration at the National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos

Chersonesos site

Preserving and Sharing Ancient Treasures With Cultural Heritage Imaging Technology

Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI), the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute of Classical Archaeology, and the National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos, with support from the Packard Humanities Institute, deployed interactive, 3D imaging technology to preserve and share amazing artifacts from Chersonesos, a world-class archaeological site in Ukraine. More …

Training at the Worcester Art Museum

Worcester Art Museum

Museum Conservation Department Adopts Reflectance Transformation Imaging Techniques

Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) provided training for staff members in the conservation department of Worcester Art Museum. This five-day class included a custom-built light array that uses Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) technology. More …

UNESCO Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the Côa Valley in Portugal

Parque Arqueologico Vale do Côa

Partners in Preservation

Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) co-founders Mark Mudge and Carla Schroer, and CHI's imaging director Marlin Lum, worked on site at UNESCO Prehistoric Rock-Art site in the remote Côa Valley in Portugal, where they applied CHI digital imaging tools and technologies to create 3D images based on Reflectance Transformation Imaging captures (RTIs) of two types of prehistoric rock art. More …

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
National Leadership Grant Project

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Developing Advanced Technologies for the Imaging of Cultural Heritage Objects

University of Southern California (USC), Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI), and Hewlett-Packard Labs received a prestigious National Leadership Grant from the IMLS to extend Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) technology to provide three-dimensional (3D), multiple-view RTIs of cultural objects. More …

Donor-Funded Project at CHI

Celtic gold coin depicting Phillip II of Macedon from the Musée Monétaire

Switzerland 2005: Expedition to the Alps

Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) co-founders Mark Mudge and Carla Schroer, and CHI's imaging director Marlin Lum, adapted Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) technology to document artifacts spanning millennia of human history from three awesome archaeological collections in Switzerland. More …