As part of the Immersive Scholarship team in Strozier’s Office of Digital Research and Scholarship (DRS), I have continuously endeavored to increase access to both research-based and archival sources of knowledge. This commitment has manifested itself through countless digitization projects spanning several disciplines—including Special Collections holdings, fossils from the Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science (EOAS), and the Museum of Fine Art’s Carter collection of Mesoamerican artifacts. These exploratory projects, beyond being highly enjoyable, have allowed me to democratize access to scholarship by creating a framework through which individuals can view and freely engage with objects that would have been previously inaccessible to them. Cosmo Wenman describes the advantages of this approach in his article “3D Scanning and Museum Access” where he writes:

Museums should 3D scan their public domain works and make them freely available online so that people can access them at home or the workplace, make adaptations or copies, use them as research materials, or for whatever else they come up with.[1]

In creating 3D scans and prints of cuneiform tablets, for example, we are able to grant the public an opportunity to interact with them in ways that would have otherwise been impossible due to conservation concerns. These 3D facsimiles also enable researchers to handle the cuneiform and analyze its inscriptions without compromising the integrity of the object. The customizable nature of 3D printing technology such as PLA filament allows us to accurately simulate the weight and texture of artifacts, which can in turn stimulate hands-on learning and encourage experimentation. Moreover, the tactility of 3D prints can also be leveraged into creating learning aids for the blind and visually impaired—a benefit that is also explored by Wenman. Our former Immersive Scholarship GA, Yatil Etherly, touched on several of these concepts in his capstone entitled Thinking in 3D: Utilizing the Future to Reimagine the Past—a project in which he examines the nuances of using 3D printed objects as potential surrogates for real artifacts.

Cuneiform #4

Cuneiform #4 scan processing using Artec Studio 14 Professional. This tablet is from Johka, circa 2300 BC and details the exchange of garments.

MoFA Carter collection

Photograph of Marcelina Nagales preparing object 161, Bloody Trophy Head Vessel (Nazca) to be photographed.

Paleo scans

Finalized 3D model of fossil MM-2b-04.

MoFA Carter Collection

This screen capture depicts the post-processing of 82 Monkey Stirrup Spout (Late Moche) in Blender.

Cuneiform #1

Cuneiform #1 scan processing using Artec Studio 14 Professional. This tablet is from Johka, circa 2350 BC and describes the exchange of livestock.

MoFA Carter Collection

Test photo depicting object 161, Bloody Trophy Head Vessel (Nazca).

Cuneiform #1

Scanning process of Cuneiform #1 using the Artec Space Spider.

Cuneiform #2

Cuneiform #2 scan processing using Artec Studio 14 Professional. This tablet is from ancient Larsa and is dated to approximately 2400 BC.

Cuneiform #10

Cuneiform #10 scan processing using Artec Studio 14 Professional. This tablet is from Tello circa 2150 BC and describes the death of livestock following transit.

Paleo Scans

Finalized 3D model of fossil MM-22b-01.

This line of inquiry has real world implications on repatriation and the ability to duplicate objects for study while returning them to their locations of origin.[2] This is especially important to Dr. Scott Evans, a paleobiologist and professor of Earth-Life interactions with whom I, and my supervisor Matthew Hunter, have collaborated. Dr. Evans has created several scans of fossils that act as research supplements and as the basis for digital mineral analysis.[3] Using 3D modeling software, Evans has been able to produce mockups that replicate the approximate positions of fossils within stones prior to their excavation. These digitization strategies have not only enriched his scholarly publications, but allowed him to repatriate his findings to the areas from which they were sourced—in this case, the Yukon and the Great Basin.[4] This scenario, and others like it, are prime instances in which the digital humanities can be tasked with helping correct institutional shortcomings regarding ownership and provenance.

Digital surrogacy also lends itself to the creation of digital exhibitions that remove inhibiting factors such as cost and distance. If we were to create a digital exhibition of the artifacts in MoFA’s Carter Collection, for example, we would be able increase access to a group of objects that are seldom exhibited.[5] This kind of programming extends learning into the home, allowing audiences who wouldn’t usually visit a museum to experience art and cultural heritage on their own terms. It also opens opportunities for the integration of virtual and augmented reality techniques that enhance audience engagement through interaction and connectivity. These immersive strategies, usually implemented by way of photogrammetry or 3D scanning, served as the basis for the FSU Libraries’ Photogrammetry Institute. As mentioned on our landing page:

Our program explores the multivalent uses of computer-aided remote sensing approaches (with an emphasis on 3D and photogrammetry) across the sciences and humanities to foster a collaborative, cross-disciplinary environment for the exchange of ideas.[6]

Using this framework, we covered a diverse range of topics including classical archaeology, fine art, dance, film, library science, and research computing.

My experience developing the Institute was immensely enriching as someone with no prior experience in the digital humanities. Over the course of a year, I learned how to practice photogrammetry as well as how to operate a vast array of software including Meshroom, Agisoft Metashape, and Blender. As part of my training, I also learned how to create models using a DSLR camera, mobile apps such as Polycam, and scanners such as the Artec Space Spider. One of my greatest takeaways from this Institute has been the ability to recognize the value inherent to engaging with digital scholarship as an accesible resource and research aid. Understanding the utility of 3D techniques has vastly improved the quality of my research and allowed me to think outside of traditional museological and art historical frameworks.

Prior to my assistantship, I had never considered the potential of “non-traditional” forms of study such as 3D models. While I still recognize the value of traditional methods of inquiry and research, they have been largely supplanted in favor of digital techniques. It has been absolutely fascinating to engage with academics across several departments who are all using the same technology to different scholarly ends. The efficacy of photogrammetry and 3D research lies in its ability to capture cultural heritage in all of its complexity—both tangible and intangible. As I progress in my career beyond Florida State, I am hopeful that I will be able to continue experimenting with these technologies in the pursuit of increased equity and accessibility.

[1] Cosmo Wenman, “3D Scanning and Museum Access,” Medium, March 25, 2015,

[2] Etherly discusses the potential pitfalls of 3D modeling and printing within the context of repatriation under his subheading entitled “considering the future of museums.”

[3] The scans above were produced by Dr. Evans and his undergraduate students Trinity Dixon and Marissa Miller in consultation with myself and Matt.

[4] Dr. Evans intends to return the samples to the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre and the Natural History Museum of LA County, respectively.

[5] This idea was introduced by Dr. Michael Carrasco, who is currently working with Art History graduate student Tanya Pattison. I, along with Marcelina Nagales from the Research Computing Center, have been assisting in digitization efforts and the creation of photogrammetric models.

[6] Matthew Hunter, “Upcoming Events,” Immersive Scholarship at Florida State University Libraries,