IntACT: visualising the interior of art objects

The IntACT research team (CWI/Rijksmuseum) developed a tool to investigate art objects on the inside. In a new video the team explains the scope and outcome of the project.

Publication date: 18-10-2022

In the past years, X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) has been used to visualise the interior of objects in 3D. For example within the NICAS and NWO funded Impact4Art project by CWI and Rijksmuseum. A drawback from analysing CT data using slices as is usually done, is that most museum professionals are trained to examine objects in 3D, rather than 2D.

Within the IntACT project, researchers focused on solving these issues by providing a better way of inspecting CT data for museum professionals. Researchers focused on visualising the CT data interactively in 3D and combining 3D surface scans of the object with the CT data, to provide the real surface colour of the object.

Researcher Paul van Laar: “There wasn’t really a solution that was easy to use or free, so we decided to create one ourselves."

IntACT, funded by a NICAS small project grant, is a collaboration between the Rijksmuseum and CWI. The project set out to combine 3D-surface scans, which provides a digital representation of an object's exterior surface, with X-Ray CT data, which gives structural information about the object's interior. The result of the project is a free and open-source interactive tool in which a museum professional can load any dataset of a given object and interactively explore the data, by rotating the object and cutting it open to examine its interior.

Francien Bossema, PhD student at CWI: “We aim to combine surface scans with CT scans in an interactive visualization to facilitate museum professionals to investigate objects on the inside with a new technique.”

By doing this, the data becomes more easily and intuitively explorable. That is to say, the object now exists virtually in 3-dimensional space, with its real colour information on the outside, and the CT data on the inside. This facilitates associating observations on the exterior surface to features in the internal CT data - and vice versa.

A new video about the IntACT project and the blog 'Uncovering hidden features inside art objects in an interactive environment', introduce some of the team members, the project's aim and its outcome.

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