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3DVisA Index of 3D Projects: Art History - Sculpture

The Digital Michelangelo Project

A major project concerned with recording and visualisation of sculptures and architecture of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), led by researchers from Stanford University, California.

The aim of the project was to create an open-access, electronic archive of Michelangelo's works. In addition to his sculptures and buildings, the marble map of ancient Rome, Forma Urbis Romae, was included.

During the academic year 1998-1999 a team of thirty university staff and students carried out fieldwork in Italy. Using a combination of the existing laser rangefinder technology and algorithms developed for this project by computer scientists at Stanford, they scanned thousands of objects, including all the surviving fragments of the Forma Urbis Romae. Accurate 3D scans of artifacts were produced. The scans were subsequently used to create three-dimensional models.

The models supported, among other applications, the restoration of the statue of David, allowing the monitoring of various levels of damage.

Detailed information about the project and its outcome is available at the project's website. See the list of sources below.

Project dates: 1997-2004

Resource status:

An archive of 3D models is available at the project's website from Stanford University.


Project directors at Stanford, Professors Marc Levoy and Jennifer Trimble. Modelling by Natasha Gelfand, David Koller and Marc Levoy of the Stanford Computer Science Department, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; and by Henrik Wann Jensen. The project has been supported in part by National Science Foundation contract IIS-0113427 and the Max Planck Center for Visual Computing and Communication. Professor Eugenio La Rocca, Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali del Comune di Roma. Full credits.

Sources and further details:

The Michelangelo Project website at the University of Stanford, California (in English and Italian). Contains an extensive bibliography and further links.

The Forma Urbis Romae archive.

S. Bracci, F., Falletti, M. Matteini and R. Scopigno, eds, Exploring David: Diagnostic Tests and State of Conservation, Giunti Press, 2004

Koller, D. and Levoy, M., (2005), ‘Protecting 3D Graphics Content’, Communications of the ACH, Vol. 48, No. 6, (June), A pdf version at http://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/protecting/protecting.pdf


Koller, D., Turitzin, M. Levoy, M., Tarini, M., Croccia, G.,Cignoni, P. and Scopigno, R. (2004), ‘Protected Interactive 3D Graphics Via Remote Rendering’, Proceedings of ACM SIGGRAPH 2004, http://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/protected/ (All URLs active 12 July 2006)

Record compiled by Anna Bentkowska-Kafel. Last updated: 11 September 2006.

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