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Photogrammetric Digitisation of a Selection of Pathological Specimens of Dr William Hunter

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Photogrammetric Digitisation of a Selection of Pathological Specimens of Dr William Hunter The University of Glasgow’s Hunterian collection holds a large number of pathological specimens of great cultural value, currently inaccessible to the public. Novel digitisation techniques hold the potential to improve current preservation methods within historical collections. This study explored the prospect of using photogrammetry to digitise a selection of specimens within the pathology collections to produce digital models suitable for display and interaction.

The project aimed to explore photogrammetric workflows and the challenges encountered when working with glass encased anatomical specimens. Artefacts were selected to cover a range of variables, including polluted, deteriorated and large scale specimens, aiming to explore the success of digitisation when working with both dry and wet specimens. The workflows and results produced by three different photogrammetry software packages; Agisoft PhotoScan, Autodesk Recap and Autodesk Memento, were compared and evaluated to assess the suitability of photogrammetric methods for the respective specimens.

Results indicate that dry specimens are highly suitable for photogrammetric digitisation. The glass encasing was found challenging to digitise as photogrammetry is dependent on ‘visual landmarks’ something glass is entirely void of. It was possible to remove the encasing during model creation, however, resulting in three-dimensional models without their original glass cases. Digitising specimens preserved in fluid proved a greater challenge than dry specimens likely due to reflections and visual distortions caused by the liquid. Agisoft PhotoScan was the only program able to successfully model some of the wet specimens, further, the success of this software was unreliable and unpredictable. Further research into photogrammetric digitisation of wet specimens is advised.

To ensure the feasibility of making the interactive models available to the public, digitised models were embedded into a publicly accessible website using Sketchfab, allowing users to view and interact with the models.

This work was undertaken by Cecilie Osnes as part of her MSc in Medical Visualisation and Human Anatomy supervised by Dr Paul M. Rea (Laboratory of Human Anatomy, University of Glasgow) and Dr. Daniel Livingstone (Digital Design Studio, The Glasgow School of Art).

Main contact:  Dr Paul M. Rea


Keywords: AnatomyDigital HumanitiesMuseumsPathologyVisualisations

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