Digitising ivory artefacts at the National History Museum in Brazil
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The advantages of digitisation technologies, such as 3D scanning, photogrammetry and 3D modelling, for the documentation and dissemination of cultural heritage artefacts is well understood by researchers. Nevertheless, practitioners, in particular those in developing countries, still have a lack of understanding of how 3D technologies could work for them in order to support their collections. This paper presents ongoing efforts to engage with museums in Brazil, in particular the National History Museum in Rio de Janeiro, in order to raise awareness of the potential of 3D technologies. Rather than applying 3D digitisation technologies on artefacts where it is known that the techniques can provide an easy solution, our approach was more experiments. Hence, several ivory artefacts were selected, including various figurines and a carved Junk Boat from East Asia which are part of the museum collection and which present particular problems both in terms of conservation and dissemination. The artefacts are complex and difficult to access. Nevertheless, the intention was to provide practitioners at the museum a good understanding on the advantages and limitations of the technologies. The contribution of this paper is the exploration of the use of 3D digitisation technologies for the documentation and dissemination of ivory carvings from a Brazilian perspective. The paper includes a discussion on the challenges in terms of having access to suitable infrastructures to support documenting, monitoring and dissemination of heritage artefacts at a larger scale within the Brazilian context.