Rosetta Stone Online in 3D

The British Museum has made a 3D-scan of the Rosetta Stone and released it for exploration, download, and sharing. The model is available at the museum’s Sketchfab site:

Sketchfab British Museum Rosetta Stone Screencap
Screencap of the Rosetta Stone 3D model by the British Museum at Sketchfab

I just love the effort museums and libraries are making to bring their collections online. Providing 3D models is another step in making the collections relevant to the 21st century life.

Visit The British Museum at Sketchfab for additional 3D models—over 200 at this writing!

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

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Temporary Exhibition: a Viking Age Village in Finland

The Viking age apparently is a bit of a thing in the Nordic countries this year: in addition the brand new museum in Stockholm, Vapriikki museum centre in Tampere will host an exhibition on Viking-age life in Finland starting this summer.

The exhibit covers village life in 1017. It’s based on the discovery of and archaeological finds from a whole Viking-age village called Tursiannotko in Pirkkala at the shores of lake Pyhäjärvi.

Birckala 1017 runs from June 09, 2017 to August 19, 2018. The exhibit description (from their 2017 brochure) reads:

“It was the time of the Vikings. In the village of Tursia, people cultivated the land, traded, made sacrifices to the gods, and ate large amounts of pork. Both the Vikings and the Novgorodians sought the riches of the Häme wilderness; however, one small village of indomitable Häme folk still held out against the enemy…

“To celebrate the centennial of Finnish independence, the Birckala 1017 exhibition allows visitors to travel through time and visit a village in Northern Häme a millennium ago. You will get to know smithing skills, about cooking outdoors, and the principles that guided life for the Finns of the past […]”

On display will be, for example, bone arrowheads, decorated spoons, beads, tools, and a sword dated to 1050-1200 and its replica. Many items are being shown to the public for the first time.

Yle Birckala 1017 Swords

Apart from the exhibit indoors, a yard with replicas (and non-replica sheep!) is available for trying out some of the iron age skills.

Yle Birckala 1017 Tursiannotko Cottage

Vapriikki in housed in an old factory hall whose oldest parts date back to the 1880s. All the exhibits are covered by a single entry ticket. More info on the Vapriikki website.

Images: Swords by Antti Eintola / Yle; Cottage interior by Jussi Mansikka / Yle

Vikingaliv, a New Viking Museum in Stockholm

A new museum focusing on Vikings opened in Stockholm, Sweden, at the end of April 2017. The Vikingaliv museum is divided into two parts, a static exhibit and a ride, and it highlights details of everyday life besides just the warrior men of bloody repute, including dwellings, farming, cooking, travel, the lives of children and women, slave trade, and religious practices.

Vikingaliv Logo

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the museum is Ragnfrid’s Saga, an 11-minute long ride through dramatized settings with sound and light effects. The ride follows the story of Ragnfrid and her husband Harald, and takes visitors across the Baltic Sea from Sweden to Kiev and Miklagård (Constantinople) and finally back to Scandinavia and the British Isles. It’s currently available in Swedish, English, Finnish, Russian, German, and Chinese.

Vikingaliv Screencap 2 Characters

Privately owned and operated, Vikingaliv sits west of central Stockholm on the island of Djurgården conveniently close to other museums and destinations. Visit the Vikingaliv and Visit Stockholm websites for more.

Images via Vikingaliv

New Research Resource: Gigantic Online Picture Map of London

The London Picture Archive is a gigantic, free online photo map of the city’s past. The project has been nicknamed Collage.

Collage The London Picture Archive

Managed by London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), the map is made with over 250,000 photos, prints, maps, and drawings from the collections of LMA and Guildhall Art Gallery. Visitors can search by street name, or browse featured galleries and subjects. From the description of Collage:

“The images provide an extraordinary record of London and its people from the fifteenth century to the present day. The whole of Greater London is covered, as are the adjoining counties. Some of the many highlights include photographs of Victorian London; the sixteenth century ‘Agas’ map of London; Hollar’s stunning panorama from 1647; beautifully designed twentieth century posters for London’s tramways; the Cross and Tibbs photographs of Second World War damage to the City of London and the collections formerly held at the Guildhall Print Room. We regularly add new content from the LMA collections and, in particular, continue to develop descriptions and subject tags for the very large London County Council Photograph Library.”

I’ve only poked around for a short time, but for general purposes Collage looks like an endless source of images. For more specific searches it may not do quite so well. It certainly appears to be a worthwhile source for historical or historically inspired worldbuilding.

Image: screencap of Collage home page by Eppu Jensen

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna

An End and a New Beginning for Bede’s World

Bede’s World, a small museum in Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, Northumbria, dedicated to the Venerable Bede and 7th-century England, shut down its operations in February 2016.

Bedes World Main Entry

Bedes World Entrance Inside

In addition to indoor exhibits, the museum includes several replica wattle and daub buildings, modeled on structures excavated in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria and built with original materials and contemporary methods. On the grounds there is also a herb garden and a working farm with a small collection of rare breed animals resembling those that lived 1,300 years ago.

Bedes World Collage

The museum issued the following statement:

“It is with great regret that the Trustee Board took the decision for Bedes World [sic] to cease operation from Friday 12 February 2016 due to a lack of funds.

“Steps are being taken to put the company into administration through the appointment of an Insolvency Practitioner.

“The Trustee Board have made arrangements for the immediate care of the farm animals and the security of the site.

“The Board would like thank all staff, volunteers and stakeholders for their hard work and dedication to Bedes World. [sic]”

Fortunately, only a few weeks afterwards better news surfaced: a new operator was found to run the site. At this writing it isn’t clear what their plans for Bede’s World are, though. (Follow this link to read the statement by Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle, the new operator.)

Found via Anne Bennett and BBC.

Images: Bede’s World main entrance, outside view via Bede’s World. Other photographs by Eppu Jensen

Quality Research Resources by Private Individuals

I wrote last week about what a fantastic thing it is to have a wealth of primary sources stored in libraries and museums, nowadays increasingly being made available online. For completeness’s sake, it needs to be mentioned that it’s not only library and museum professionals that share quality research or materials online.

nypl-unidentified-woman-reading-a-book
Unidentified woman reading a book via NYPL, Manuscripts and Archives Division (1913; photograph)

Below I list a (very) few linguistic and historical resources put together by dedicated private individuals. They’re all diligent in documenting their steps and sources, and providing info and links for those interested in finding more. Thorough documentation is, again, not a surefire way to avoid mistakes, but it does allow tracking sources and re-creating the research.

A short list, to be sure, but what better than that to add to. 🙂

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Museum Materials: Volcano Day in Pompeii

Speaking of the excellence of museum and library collections: below are resources on the destruction of Pompeii I found by visiting only two museum sites.

“A Day in Pompeii” is an 8-minute high-definition video on how a series of eruptions wiped out Pompeii over 48 hours, produced by Museum Victoria (Melbourne Museum) and Zero One Animation for an exhibition at Melbourne Museum in 2009.

A Day in Pompeii – Full-length animation via Zero One Animation

It would’ve been more stunning with changes in the POV rather than a static camera, but it was still interesting.

To accompany the exhibit, Melbourne Museum produced a wealth of additional online material.

Melbourne Museum Day in Pompeii Box

Unfortunately there’s currently no index page, but articles are still available on the Museum website (do a search for Pompeii). For example, House of the Vine is a nifty virtual recreation of a beautiful Pompeian house. And did you know that Pompeii had running water and lavatories? There is even a replica of a loaf of bread from Pompeii:

Melbourne Museum Day in Pompeii Loaf of Bread

After Melbourne, the exhibition traveled to other places. The Western Australian Museum also built a helpful site, still fully available, to go with their 2010 version in Perth.

Complementary views can be found from photos of the current state of the city at Pompeii in Pictures, website by Jackie and Bob Dunn. (Getting to the photos themselves takes a bit of clicking through the menus, but they’re there.)

Images: Box, (c) Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei via Melbourne Museum (House of Julius Polybius, Pompeii; original iron and bronze fittings and wood reconstruction). Loaf of bread via Melbourne Museum (bakery in Pompeii; plaster copy of an original, carbonized loaf)

The Visual Inspiration occasional feature pulls the unusual from our world to inspire design, story-telling, and worldbuilding. If stuff like this already exists, what else could we imagine?

The Glory of Library and Museum Materials

I really love the Internet for research. It connects us to materials and people around the world. As a visual person, I find the availability of photographs and other visualizations on just about any subject especially gratifying. You can visit places and eras that you physically may not be able to.

NYPL Digital The Drawbridge

One of the invaluable services libraries and museums provide, especially now that more of their collections are being digitized, is access to historical periods and obscure topics. (Like the Peter Parker collection of 80 paintings of Chinese patients with large tumors or other major deformities – that’s not a joke!)

And that’s only the beginning – using library and museum websites and digital collections to find primary sources for research has other benefits as well:

  • Copious metadata: the provenance (origins and history) of documents or items, including details like dates, original creators, owners, and chain of custody, are clearly marked when known, and when unknown, that is clearly stated, too.
  • Materials that physical items were made of are also given, often with information on the techniques involved or links to further reading in connection with museum exhibits.
  • Many libraries and museums group items in their digital collections into more easily browsable subgroups, for example by era, style, type, or topic.
  • Copyright information is easily available: any limitations to re-using the materials are clearly given. There are also collections that concentrate on items that are in public domain.
  • If digital materials are made available for re-using, often there are multiple formats, sizes, or resolutions. That’s great service!
  • Sets of search results are often smaller than online in general. Finding an answer is faster!
  • Digital collections are created by professionals. While this doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of errors, online materials at libraries and museums are researched, curated, and checked, which increases the reliability of the information provided.
  • If additional information or clarification is needed, it’s the job of museums and libraries to at least try to help. That’s literally why they’re there!

Below are just some amazing digital collections from museums and libraries around the world:

Must. Resist. Internet. Rabbit. Holes!

Image: The Drawbridge via NYPL (The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library, New York Public Library Digital Collections; 1748-1751; etching; by Giovanni Battista Piranesi)

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.