Museums and other cultural institutions must consider how to best preserve their collections for an exponentially digital world. Our digital age is providing new avenues for preservation, accessibility, viewing, and interaction. This thesis assesses the feasibility of utilizing and creating accessible and readable 3D digital surrogates and prints. To consider and adapt current best practices "what are the implications of creating accurate reproductions for the research environment as well as for online and in person use”? This thesis presents themes that relate to the broader fields of digitization, reproduction, and fabrication in museums and cultural institutions, presents findings in the form of a literature review, and accounts for my own experimentation with the resources to which I have access at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). This thesis engages collaboration with two key partners: RIT’s all-access makerspace, The Construct, and the Melbert B. Cary Graphic Arts Collection. Under the advisement of Mike Buffalin and Dr. Steven Galbraith, I scanned a papier-mâché bound book in 3D to create a digital surrogate which has two purposes: a digital rendering to be made available online and a material output when the file was printed in three dimensions using polylactic acid (PLA) low-cost filament. The viability of this project is defined by the accuracy of the reproductions, the resources necessary, and the time commitment required for this project to be adapted by small institutions. This project is an inexpensive and proactive alternative to seeking conservation treatment and will further enable non-local audiences to interact with distant materials. Ultimately, the project supplies small institutions with less expensive options to digitize and create surrogates of their collections, offer a model procedure for the fabrication of online and physical facsimiles, and provide a list of digitization connections within the RIT community.
Museum Studies (BS)
Curran, Katherine E., "The Process of Creating Accurate Reproductions of Fragile Objects: Fabricating 3D Facsimiles with Limited Resources" (2017). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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