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VCU Archaeology

From the Local to the Global: The Coming Week in the Virtual Curation Laboratory

by Bernard K. Means

This coming week will be quite a busy one for the Virtual Curation Laboratory.  Wednesday, afternoon  (March 30, 2016) I will be presenting on our efforts to preserve and present the world’s archaeology past through 3D printing in a lecture as part of Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Anthropology Speaker series.

Means 2016 spring Anth speakers flyerI will then leave early (very early) Thursday morning to fly to Santa Cruz, California, where I will present at the Modeling Cultures: 3D Archaeology and the Future of the Past conference at UC Santa Cruz.

modeling culture flyerThis promises to be a great day and I expect to be reporting back here on what I learn.  My own presentation is Artifact to Avatar: Entangling the Local with the Global by Creating Virtual “Material Culture.”  Here is my somewhat lengthy abstract:

The Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is one of a growing number of institutions that use 3D scanning technologies to capture archaeological discoveries from all over the world. Used effectively, these 3D digital artifact models can help cultural heritage institutions share their amazing discoveries to a global audience and not simply to their fixed geographic locations. How to share these 3D digital artifact models and highlight their research potential to an audience wider than undergraduate students and professional archaeologists has proven more difficult than originally expected.  Challenges encountered have included concerns over cultural patrimony, intellectual property rights, cross-platform technological compatibility, and accessibility issues for disabled persons. Here, I discuss different techniques we and our partners have implemented to make these 3D digital models more broadly accessible in virtual and tangible realms, ranging from passive animations posted on the internet, to displays of accurately 3D printed and painted artifact replicas at public archaeology events and in museum exhibitions.

On Saturday, April 2, while I am flying back from Santa Cruz, undergraduate VCU students interning in the Virtual Curation Laboratory and other VCU anthropology students will represent the Virtual Curation Laboratory at Historic Tredegar in Richmond, Virginia, for Civil War & Emancipation Day 2016: An Uncertain Journey. They will showcase some of the 3D scanned and 3D printed material associated with the American Civil War and enslaved Americans from throughout Virginia.

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