Dec 22, 2015 | By Benedict

Scansite3D today revealed its 3D scanning role in the lengthy restoration of Tullio Lombardo’s Adam, a year after the sculpture was put back on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Adam, the life-size marble statue carved by Tullio Lombardo, is one of the most priceless and recognizable works to have survived from Renaissance period Venice. But the breathtaking work, made in the early 1490s for the tomb of Doge Andrea Vendramin, was tragically damaged in an accident in 2002. Whilst on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the podium supporting Adam buckled, sending the priceless figure tumbling to the floor. The impact shattered both the sculpture itself and the dreams of art lovers worldwide.

After that fateful moment, a long an arduous restoration process took place to restore the figure to its former state. Scansite3D today revealed its notable contribution to the 12-year project, which involved 3D scanning the broken pieces of the sculpture and plotting a virtual reconstruction using 3D modeling software. When Scansite3D were commissioned to help with the restoration, they were greeted with 28 major fragments, 400 minor fragments and a pile of marble dust. The situation presented a major challenge, but a challenge upon which the company was keen to embark.

The first step of the restoration was to digitize the broken fragments, which was achieved by 3D scanning each individual piece. Once each fragment had been recreated digitally, the team had to precisely reassemble the pieces into a 3D model—a challenge that even the most accomplished of jigsaw experts would have feared. The challenge was compounded by the unfortunate fact that stone expands once broken, meaning that the pieces would not fit in the exact manner that they did before breaking. Nonetheless, when the digital 3D model was complete, a reverse image was produced so that a CNC mill could be used to create a foam cradle for the reconstruction.

The next step was even more difficult than the first. With the Museum needing to identify structural points of the reconstruction using finite element (FEA) software, Scansite3D built a suitable 3D engineered CAD file using the scan data. The “Virtual Adam” they created was used as a reference point for the physical rebuilding of the real Adam.

"We're very proud of our involvement with the Metropolitan Museum and cultural heritage work has long been one of our specialties,” said Lisa Federici, CEO of Scansite3D. “But this project pushed the boundaries in terms of technology and pioneered a new way of thinking about what's possible in conservation.”

Thanks to advanced 3D scanning and modeling technology, the first monumental classical nude since antiquity is now safe and well in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.



Posted in 3D Scanning



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