Within the scope of the »Museum Island« master plan, the Pergamon Museum is being renovated in sections. Work began in 2013, and the Pergamon hall has been closed since the fall of 2014, presumably until 2019. With the support of the federal government’s commissioner for culture and the media, the Antique Collection of the National Museums in Berlin and Fraunhofer IGD were able to realize an elaborate 3D scan of the over 2000-year-old masterpiece of Hellenistic art in September 2014. The resulting 3D model of the Pergamon Altar is now unveiled to the public.
From laser scan to 3D model
The scan was performed under the direction of Pedro Santos, head of the competence center for cultural heritage digitization of Fraunhofer IGD, over a two-week period prior to the hall’s closing. In the first week, Fraunhofer researchers planned and prepared its execution in cooperation with the Berlin museums.In the second week, during the day, Santos and his colleagues focused on the photogrammetric recording of the 113-meter-long Gigantomachy frieze. At night, they captured the entire hall, including all friezes and colonnades, by means of a 3D laser scanner. Digitization was completed on September 29, 2014, the last day the hall was open to public.
A laser scanner was placed at 51 scanning positionsyielding 176 million 3D points per measurement. By doing so, they achieved a resolution of 5 millimeters. Based on a pre-computed matrix, the Gigantomachy frieze was automatically photographed line by line and column by column every 63 cm horizontally and every 50 cm vertically, with overlaps in five directions (centrally as well as diagonally from the top, left, bottom and right side). For this purpose, immediately prior to the mission, the team combined an 8-meter-long mobile boom with a movable head to position and orient the reflex camera. In the process, a total of 8,065 2D color images with 24.2 megapixels per image were created. A 3D model of the frieze with a resolution of 300 micrometers was computed from this set of images.
Both scanning results have now been combined in a 3D model comprising around 90 gigabytes, in its highest resolution, and including about 580 million triangles. The model was first presented to the public on May 24, 2016, and is now available for numerous applications in research, museum presentation, or reproduction. Until the renovation is complete, while waiting to do so in person, visitors can now visit the Pergamon Altar online. In addition to the presentation of the overall model, different detail models are to be made available, as shown in this example of the South frieze.
Digitization of Cultural Heritage
With its competence center for cultural heritage digitization, Fraunhofer IGD places one of its focuses on the development of new technologies to preserve and document cultural assets and their virtual reproductions. The Competence Center was founded in 2012 and specializes in fast and economic digitization capturing historical cultural heritage in three dimensions. Within the scope of the BMWi project »CultLab3D« and coordinated by Fraunhofer IGD, their researchers developed the fully automated 3D scanning facility by the same name for the mass digitization of cultural artifacts.
Furthermore, Fraunhofer IGD launched the »Culture in 3D« Forum in 2011, providing museums, industrial partners, scientists, and industry representatives with a platform for the exchange of ideas on the potential of 3D technologies, as well as on the resulting options of exhibiting cultural goods, preserving them, and making them available for research purposes.
Fraunhofer IGD is an active member of the Cultural Heritage Research Alliance founded in 2008. It actively promotes the protection of cultural heritage by developing new procedures, materials, and technologies. The interdisciplinary alliance was founded by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, and the Leibniz Association.