Science Museum reveals 3-D point cloud tour of closed Shipping Galleries

By Culture24 Reporter | 22 July 2013

The closure of the Science Museum's shipping galleries has resulted in a technological journey to rival the Information Age spaces which will replace them.

Working with 275 laser scans, captured by a pair of terrestrial laser scanners with 360-degree views, the galleries were faithfully recorded in a “point cloud” before their closure, allowing millions of points across the displays to remain perusable to an accuracy of millimetres.

The first glimpses of the expansive online tour have been made available to the public in a video. A total of two billion precise measurements helped create it, with curator of transport David Rooney adding his narration.

“This 3D model has allowed us to record 1800 gallery objects in context, digitally preserving the gallery space as well as the objects themselves,” says Daniel Evans, the Head of Web for the Science Museum Group.

“Releasing Science Museum digital content for public re-use across the internet is a focus for us this year, and I look forward to seeing many innovative ideas for the shipping galleries data from the public.

“The video tour and point cloud model will open up the gallery and Science Museum maritime collection to a new generation of virtual visitors.”

Although curators say the amount of data involved makes using it “challenging”, they expect to release it to audiences later this year.

“The technology allows us to extract a forensic level of detail quickly and without damaging the exhibits,” says Matthew Shaw, of ScanLAB Projects, who calls the innovation “a vast, highly accurate” resource which can digitise “anything from intricately detailed objects to vast cityscapes”.

“We hope this data set can soon be viewed across the globe, allowing experts and the general public alike to continue exploring this amazing collection.”

The shipping galleries were the home of the museum’s maritime collection between 1963 and 2012. Information Age will open in September 2014.
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