Digitization of Cultural Heritage at the National Museum of History, Bucharest

Irina Mihaela Ciortan


The National Museum of Romanian History in Bucharest holds a vast number of archaeological objects of both Romanian and European cultural significance: ceramics, objects made of marble, stone, copper, gold and silver, as well as a collection of painted icons of manuscripts, cover historic periods dating from Prehistory to Modern Age. The museum has been undergoing renovation for several years and the majority of the objects in its collection are not available to the public.

The main purpose of the case study described in this chapter is to grow the collection of digitized objects and to offer their visualizations for viewing in a virtual gallery. This way the general public, as well as scholars, will be able to access virtual surrogates of the objects that are at present not available on site. Another objective of this case study was to implement state-of-the-art non-invasive techniques for acquiring images of the artefacts, using both spectral and spatial object documentation. Finally, the case study aims to disseminate information about the digitization process and to provide specifications and guidelines of good practice that will serve both the scientific and arts and humanities communities, involved in the field of cultural heritage.

The case study targets three main categories of end-users: (1) the general public; (2) curators, researchers, archaeologists within the museum and (3) curators, researchers and archaeologists outside the museum. Depending on the end-user, the case study may cover different needs, such as: documentation, visualization, dissemination and presentation, education.

The selection of the artefacts was undertaken together with the museum curators, based on the cultural significance of the objects and also, according to the priority given to their documentation and digital conservation. The following objects are used in this study: three ceramic vases from the Cucuteni culture, three icons painted on wood and a collection of medieval manuscripts. The techniques used for recording and analysis are photogrammetry and multispectral imaging.

Keywords: icons, Medieval manuscripts, Cucuteni, photogrammetry, multispectral imaging, COSCH



Figure 1: Patter of end-user needs in the planning phase of a Cultural Heritage Project. Left: Venn-like pattern, Right: Concentric pattern.



Figure 2: Setup for the photogrammetric acquisition of the ceramic vases



Figure 3: Setup for the multispectral acquisition with the filter-wheel camera of the manuscripts and icons.



Figure 4: The single-band wavelengths corresponding to each of the 8 filters placed in the filter wheel. Notice how some of the text begins to fade as the wavelength approaches the NIR.


Figure 5: The RGB visualizations of the Orthodox icons and the Medieval manuscripts.