NEH Training Grant Supporting the Symposium

National Endowment for the Humanities logo

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded a Preservation and Access Education and Training grant to Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) beginning January 1, 2016. The grant includes support for seven training sessions and a symposium on computational photography. Learn more about the grant.

Apply for the Sponsored Training Classes

The grant awarded to CHI by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) supports training classes in Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and photogrammetry across the U.S. in 2016–2017. The classes sponsored by the grant are open to humanities collections professionals and pre-professionals by application. Apply now!

The Power of RTI

Roman inscription from the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum

Lower image is an RTI of a Roman inscription in specular enhancement mode

Learn more about Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), the powerful imaging technique that is the subject of this symposium at The Met. See also more examples of RTI and what it can reveal.


Learning how to shoot an RTI at Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum

Illumination of Material Culture: A Symposium on Computational Photography and Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) at The Met

Two-Day Symposium at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March 7-8, 2017

Sold out!

scarab RTI

RTI of an Egyptian scarab from the Eton College Meyers Collection at the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum. Left image: mathematical relighting has not been implemented. Right image: mathematical relighting has been adjusted to show details difficult to discern with the naked eye.

The Met

March 7-8, 2017
Download the Symposium Program (PDF)

Cultural Heritage Imaging partnered with The Metropolitan Museum of Art to present this two-day symposium with a focus on use cases and recently developed tools and research in Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and related techniques in computational photography. The symposium brought together approximately 100 conservators and humanities collections professionals, photographers, curators, archivists, imaging experts, researchers, and technology experts to present the latest updates to RTI technology and related techniques and their applications. Speakers and panelists discussed current uses and future development of RTI and related tools and methods for the user community.


The Symposium at a Glance

This two-day event at The Metropolitan Museum of Art focused on Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and related techniques in computational photography, and it was open to all professionals who have come to depend on these imaging technologies and for others in the humanities who are exploring their adoption.

Illumination of Material Culture: A Symposium on Computational Photography
and Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)
Location The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education
1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
(enter through the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education entrance located at street level on Fifth Avenue and 81st Street)
Dates March 7–8, 2017, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm each day
Registration The Symposium tickets were sold out.
For anyone working with or considering adopting RTI and related imaging techniques for collections.
Registration fee was $75 per person.
Presentations Invited talks by leading researchers and museum practitioners, including Szymon Rusinkiewicz of Princeton University; Graeme Earl of Southampton University, UK; Roberto Scopigno of the Visual Computing Lab, National Research Council of Italy; Scott Geffert of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Holly Rushmeier of Yale University; E. Keats Webb of the Smithsonian Institution; Mark Mudge and Carla Schroer of Cultural Heritage Imaging.
Lightning Talks 5-minute presentations: as of January 12, symposium participants could use our web sign-up form to submit a proposed 5-minute talk for the Symposium. Talk slots were granted on a first come first served basis once you met the basic requirements described in this brief PDF document: Call for Lightning Talks.
Panels Two panel discussions moderated by Paul Messier of Yale University and Graeme Earl of Southampton University, UK. Panelists included researchers and practitioners, and there was plenty of time for audience participation.
Program Download the Symposium program (PDF)

More About the Symposium

NEH logo

The symposium is part of the Preservation and Access Education and Training grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI), beginning January 1, 2016.

As The Met indicates in its letter of commitment to CHI, the symposium was designed to serve and bolster the community of professionals and pre-professionals who have come to depend on RTI and other computational photography techniques. This was a first-ever event; the content and schedule were developed jointly between the CHI team and staff from The Sherman Fairchild Center for Works on Paper and Photograph Conservation at The Met. The education and imaging departments at The Met also supported this event.

The Met in New York, NY

Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The symposium enabled attendees to share examples of the application of RTI and related imaging techniques to their work through lightning-talk sessions. It also served as a venue for the rollout of new software tools to the RTI and computational photography user community. With presentations by invited speakers and focused panel discussions, the symposium enabled professional practitioners of RTI and related techniques to gain valuable insights and experience that they will be able to apply at their home institutions, and to influence the practice more widely in their respective fields.

More About Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)

RTI enables conservators to examine a subject’s very fine surface features by taking a sequence of digital photographs from the same viewpoint but illuminated from different directions, using basic digital camera equipment. Because of its low-cost, easy-to-use, flexible nature and multiple applications, RTI is a “game changer” in the field of humanities and cultural heritage empirical data collection.

RTI is recognized today as an extremely valuable addition to the working toolset of conservators and others who are responsible for documentation, preservation, and conservation of humanities collections. RTI is revolutionizing the research, documentation, change monitoring, and treatment of collections, while also promoting the integration of interactive images into the visitor experience, both in person and on the web. RTI has already been deployed and adopted by leading museums, libraries, archives and archaeological collections in the US and around the world.


Please note: Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.