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VCU Archaeology

Spring 2016, Week 0 in the VCL: New Interns, VHS, and ACWM

by Bernard K. Means

I’m titling this blog as Week 0, as the Spring 2016 semester at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) does not begin until next week on Tuesday, January 19. However, our activities in the Virtual Curation Laboratory (VCL) are not limited to a strict academic schedule, and I am fortunate that some of our interns were able to start learning about and contributing to the activities in the VCL before the semester officially began.  This is especially important, as we are embarking on new partnerships within the greater Richmond, Virginia, community to help share the city’s and the nation’s heritage to broader audiences.

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New intern Jennifer Pistole holds a painted replica of an Eiffel Tower souvenir that was given to a US soldier during World War II following the liberation of Paris, France.

The first new intern to join the VCL this semester is VCU anthropology major Jennifer Pistole, who demonstrated her considerable artistic skills by painting 3D printed object replicas to resemble the real items.  Jennifer will use these skills to help create materials for public outreach and future exhibits. She will also help develop teaching materials for use in my Archaeological Methods and Research Design course.

Midweek, the VCL was visited by Andrew Talkov, Vice President for Programs at the Virginia Historical Society, to discuss how the VCL can produce versions of documents  that would be accessible to the visually impaired. We were joined by VCU’s Brian McNeill and Hannah K. Sutherland who documented our meeting for a future news story.

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Brian McNeill, Andrew Talkov, and Hannah Sutherland in the VCL.

I was able to print two different signatures of George Washington to demonstrate how we can help create tactile versions in 3D of 2D documents.

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Printed George Washington signatures

At the end of the week, we traveled to the Virginia Historical Society to discuss 3D scanning of some of the items in their collection, so that tactile elements for the visually impaired and others could be created over the next few months. New intern Jennifer Pistole was joined by another new intern, Laura Nixon, and art student Hannah Bechtle, who is helping document our activities through her sketching abilities.

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Laura Nixon, Hannah Bechtle, Jennifer Pistole, and Bernard K. Means outside the Virginia Historical Society.

Laura, Hannah, Jennifer, and myself actually spent the morning at the White House of the Confederacy to meet with the American Civil War Museum’s (ACWM) Director of Education Stephanie Arduini to select artifacts for 3D scanning that can be 3D printed for public programs.  We were facilitated by ACWM Curator Cathy Wright, who gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of their collections.

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The VCL looks to a fruitful partnership with these two Richmond-based cultural heritage institutions over the coming months.  This is a tremendous opportunity for VCU students interning in the VCL to get real-life work experience, while benefiting the greater Richmond community.

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