Swedish Museum Exhibit Allows Visitors To Virtually Unwrap Mummies
June 30, 2013

Swedish Museum Exhibit Allows Visitors To Virtually Unwrap Mummies

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Ever wanted to peel back the layers and see just what a mummy looks like beneath the layers of linen? Starting next year, a museum in Sweden will allow you to do just that -- virtually, that is.

The Medelhavsmuseet, a museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities located in Stockholm, is planning to digitize its museum collection in 3D, according to BBC News reports published on Friday.

The digitization process will involve technology that uses photographs and X-ray scans to create three-dimensional models, and once it is complete, visitors to the museum will be allowed to virtually unwrap an actual mummy. According to Duncan Geere of Wired.com.uk, the process being used is known as "reality capture."

The exhibition is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014, and the curators there hope that it will allow visitors to gain greater insight into the lives of the ancient Egyptian people, the British news agency said. Along with the Medelhavsmuseet, Swedish visualization researchers and technology firms Autodesk and Faro will be collaborating on the exhibition.

"The museum will scan six mummies using a process called reality capture technology, where high-resolution 3D digital models can be made by compiling data from photos and X-ray scans," the BBC explained. "Museum visitors will be able to explore the mummies in a way similar to what archaeologists do when they are looking for novel discoveries from ancient remains."

"We aim to set a new standard for how museums work with 3D digitization and interactive visualization to make collections more accessible to other museums, researchers and museum visitors," noted Thomas Rydell of the Swedish Interactive Institute.

Those participating in the exhibit will reportedly be allowed to zoom in using extremely high-resolution models in order to see unique details, such as carving marks on a sarcophagus. They will also be able to virtually peel off the layers of the mummy's linen wrap in order to explore the various artifacts buried along with the body.

"In this project we are working with mummies, but the same methods could of course be used on large variety of objects, such as natural history objects and other historical artifacts," Rydell told BBC News. "We can literately create a virtual copy of the mummy. This version could be shared with other museums, be used for research or be part of an interactive visitor experience."

"The technology will enable our visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the men and women inside the mummy wrappings," added exhibit producer Elna Nord. "Layer by layer, the visitor can unwrap the mummy and gain knowledge of the individual's sex, age, living conditions and beliefs. With help from the technology, the mummies become so much stronger mediators of knowledge of our past."