At Rochester Institute of Technology, a research program is near completion aimed at benchmarking the quality of direct digital imaging of cultural heritage in American museums, libraries, and similar institutions. The current practice at nearly all institutions surveyed includes visual editing. Digital masters incorporate camera spatial processing, ICCtype color management including encoding in a large-gamut RGB space, and global and local visual editing. Also at RIT, a research program is underway aimed at developing a highquality digital camera that incorporates spectral imaging. The hypothesis is that when using the new camera system, visual editing is unnecessary, greatly improving workflow efficiency and color accuracy. An experiment was performed to test this hypothesis. The experiment included spectralbased imaging of both color targets and small paintings and rendering the spectral images for a colorimetricallycharacterized computer-controlled LCD display. The targets and paintings were viewed adjacent to the display in a laboratory lit by ceiling-mounted daylight-balanced fluorescent lights. A variety of quantitative comparisons were performed including: reflectance spectrophotometry vs. in-situ spectroradiometry, reflectance spectrophotometry vs. spectral-based imaging, forward and inverse model accuracy of the LCD colorimetric characterization, and in-situ spectroradiometric comparison of targets and paintings compared with their LCD renderings. Using the GretagMacbeth ColorChecker as an independent verification target, average color differences varied between 1.0 and 2.9 Eoo. For two paintings, the average accuracy was 4.2 and 5.1 Eoo. This level of accuracy exceeded that achieved by museums and libraries, even following global and local image editing, confirming our hypothesis that it is possible to create a digital archive of cultural heritage without the need for visual editing (Refer to PDF file for exact formulas).

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This article may be accessed (additional fees may apply) at: http://www.art-si.org/PDFs/Acquisition/Archiving05_Berns.pdf This research was supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Gallery of Art Washington DC, and the Museum of Modern Art New York. Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


RIT – Main Campus