Sally Wilson, Web Services Librarian, Ryerson University Library & Archives
The Colebourn Family Archive consists of photos, print and handwritten documents, books, and a large collection of three-dimensional objects including a selection of veterinary tools. While these items can all be photographed and described as part of the digital collection, the shape and dimensionality of many of the objects is not easily conveyed in a virtual exhibit.
3D scanning offers us a unique opportunity to interact with several objects from the Colebourn Family Archive.Currently being used commercially in the entertainment, medical, industrial design areas, 3D scanning is also being explored by cultural institutions such as the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art for research purposes and to make their collections more accessible to the public. At Ryerson University, 3D scanning has occurred primarily as a research activity; this project allows for experimentation end results of which are accessible to a wide range of individuals and has given us a better understanding of what is possible with this technology. The 3D scanning portion of this digital collection project should be viewed as a pilot project. The aim was not to reproduce the objects with a high degree of fidelity but rather to provide additional ways of interacting with the objects to explore how 3D scanning could be used in this and future digital humanities projects.
The 3D scanning portion of this digital collection project should be viewed as a pilot project. The aim was not to reproduce the objects with a high degree of fidelity but rather to explore additional ways of interacting with the objects to see how 3D scanning could be used in this and future digital humanities projects. 3D models don’t replace visiting a physical exhibition, but in this case they provide the end-user the ability to interact with objects that are held in a private collection.
In addition to this website, a physical exhibit of items from the Colebourn Archive was held in the Ryerson Image Centre. For the period of time that it was open it allowed for the viewing of objects in three dimensions, but, as with many exhibitions, it did not allow for the direct manipulation of these objects. The 3D models in the virtual exhibit lack the fidelity of the original objects; however, they complement and extend the physical exhibition.