Photogrammetry training with two students from Saudi Arabia in collaboration with RCU and Art Jameel
Photogrammetry training with two students from Saudi Arabia in collaboration with RCU and Art Jameel

In November 2019, two students from Saudi Arabia, Jawharah Albalawi and Abdulrahim Sugair, started a two-week photogrammetry training in Factum Foundation’s headquarters in Madrid. The training was the second step of a collaborative project between Factum Foundation, Art Jameel, and the Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU).

It was conducted by Factum’s 3D expert Otto Lowe and Art Jameel's senior programme manager for heritage, Fatima Mazeh, who spent two weeks in the town of AlUla in 2018, teaching a group of fifteen residents how to record cultural heritage. The local students were first taught of the core concepts and technical processes behind photogrammetry and were then able to practically apply this knowledge to the recording of three different petroglyph sites in the vicinity of AlUla.

The purpose of the training in Factum’s workshops was for the two alumni to build on what they learnt in 2018.

This course in Madrid aimed to teach them the more complex elements of photogrammetry so that they could return to AlUla and teach fellow Saudi nationals how to record cultural heritage using the techniques. This will enable them to create a local team with the knowledge, skills and experience to responsibly safeguard their cultural heritage, in line with the RCU's Cultural Manifesto and overall plans to welcome the world to AlUla in October 2020.

Hope for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry
Hope for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

The campaign to save the church bell foundry at Whitechapel has entered a new and positive phase. On 3rd December the UK Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government issued a Holding Direction to the Tower Hamlets Development Committee, preventing them from proceeding with the planning application for change of use to a boutique hotel. All decisions about the foundry will now be made by the Secretary of State and not by Tower Hamlets.

While the future of the foundry is not yet secured, this is a moment for celebration and a firm step on the way to reacquiring the historic buildings and converting them into cutting edge foundry facilities. Over the next few days, Factum Foundation and the UK Historic Buildings Preservation Trust will start on the next stage of the campaign - watch this space for further developments.

To find out about this campaign and about the proposals for the foundry put forward by Factum Foundation and the UK Historic Buildings Preservation Trust, click here.

Bakor monoliths: new recording at the Israel Museum
Bakor monoliths: new recording at the Israel Museum

A team from Factum Foundation is in Jerusalem recording a Bakor monolith from Cross River state, Nigeria, that was recently donated to the Israel Museum. The limestone monolith was documented by Philip Allison in the early 1960s at a site called Akumabal. It will feature in Factum’s upcoming exhibition on the monoliths at the British Museum in November 2020.

Factum Foundation is collaborating with the Trust for African Rock Art (TARA) and the University of Calabar (UNICAL) on a project aimed at documenting, conserving and raising awareness about the Bakor monoliths, also known as the ‘Cross-River’ or ‘Ikom’ monoliths, and locally referred to as ‘akwanshi’ or ‘atal’.

An extensive survey of the monoliths was commissioned by the National Museum in Lagos and was carried out by Philip Allison, formerly of the Nigerian Forestry Department, over a period of two months in 1961 and 1962. This put the number of carved stones at 300. In the course of three periods of fieldwork, of about one month in total, Factum Foundation, TARA and UNICAL have visited all the major sites recorded by Allison and have, in addition, identified a handful of others not yet recorded.

Learn more about this project

Recording the Tomb of Raphael at the Pantheon in Rome
Recording the Tomb of Raphael at the Pantheon in Rome

More news about this collaboration with Scuderie del Quirinale - Ales will be released soon but we can say that it is part of the celebrations that will surround the 500th Anniversary of Raphael's death next year. We will keep you updated.

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Forthcoming exhibition: Polittico Griffoni at Palazzo Fava in Bologna
Forthcoming exhibition: Polittico Griffoni at Palazzo Fava in Bologna

All 16 paintings that once formed the Polittico Griffoni are being reunited in Bologna for the first time since 1725. It is a great moment for the city and it has taken almost two years to secure the loan agreements from nine institutions. The exhibition will open on 12th March 2020 and will be accompanied by a second exhibition focussing on Factum Foundation’s work to apply technology to preservation is different ways.

Walter Benjamin starts his 1935 essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction with a very positive quote written by Paul Valéry (Aesthetics, 1928, “The Conquest of Ubiquity”):
"For the last twenty years neither matter nor space nor time has been what it was from time immemorial. We must expect great innovations to transform the entire technique of the arts, thereby affecting artistic invention itself and perhaps even bringing about an amazing change in our very notion of art.”

The altarpiece was commissioned for the Church of San Petronio and celebrates the life and works of the Valencian Saint Vincent Ferrer. The predella is one of the most complex and obscure narratives depicting his miracles. St Lucy holding her eyes as if they were a pair of lunettes is a highly original depiction of a rather grotesque scene.

Learn more on the recording and re-materialisation of the Griffoni Polyptych.

Facsimiles of two Lamassu from the north-west palace of Ashurnasirpal II in Nimrud have been donated to the University of Mosul by Factum Foundation and the British Museum
Facsimiles of two Lamassu from the north-west palace of Ashurnasirpal II in Nimrud have been donated to the University of Mosul by Factum Foundation and the British Museum

On 24th October, exact facsimiles of two lamassu statues (Assyrian protective deities in the form of human-headed winged lions) have been presented at the University of Mosul by Factum Foundation and the British Museum, with the logistical support of the Spanish Ministry of Defense, the Iraqi Government and the financial support of the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden. The project was managed by Ali Aljuboori, the director of the centre for Assyrian studies at the University of Mosul.

In 2004, Factum Arte (before the formation of Factum Foundation in 2009) recorded the original statues at the British Museum. They were taken to London in 1848/1849 by Sir Austin Henry Layard. They are guardians that ensured no evil presence entered the building and were placed at places of significance. The entrance to the main University building is in front of the University’s Central Library where over one million books and manuscripts were burnt in 2017.

All parties hope that the installation of the facsimiles of the two lamassu in the University of Mosul will be seen as a new approach to sharing cultural heritage that has been made possible by Factum’s mix of technology and craftsmanship. A sign of hope that will be followed by a significant transfer of skills and technology that has been agreed between Ali Aljuboori and Adam Lowe, the founder of Factum Foundation. The training initiative has also received the support of Dr. Adel Mustafa Kamel, the ambassador for the Republic of Iraq in Madrid and Juan José Escobar Stemmann, the Spanish ambassador in Iraq and other important figures working on the preservation of Iraq’s heritage. High-resolution recording in 3D and colour, the production of exact facsimiles and digital restorations can never replace the Assyrian carvings that were destroyed in Nimrud and at the Museum in Mosul but they can play an important role in keeping their memory alive and in sharing their cultural and political significance.

The Xingu Sacred Cave of Kamukuwaká <br> An emergency forum on indigenous cultural heritage in the Brazilian Amazon
The Xingu Sacred Cave of Kamukuwaká
An emergency forum on indigenous cultural heritage in the Brazilian Amazon

On the 18th and 19th of October 2019, Factum Foundation hosted an event at its workshops in Madrid to launch the facsimile of the restored sacred cave of Kamukuwaká, located just outside the Xingu Indigenous Territory, Mato Grosso, Brazil. Representatives from the Wauja people, the singer Akari Waurá and his son Yanumakakuma, the Kuikuro, the filmmaker Takuma Kuikuro, and from the Krenak of Minas Gerais, the activist and spiritual healer, Shirley Krenak, as well as the non-indigenous archaeologist Mafalda Ramos, travelled to Madrid to tell the story of the cave and its contemporary significance at a time of unprecedented threats to indigenous populations and land.

The event was a celebration of the collaborative endeavour that brought about the facsimile of the cave, an opportunity to explore what it represents for the culture and traditions of Xingu - brought to life by Akari's songs relating to the cave and his recounting of its myths - and a moment to reflect on the next stages of the project. This latter aspect took place over the course of a day of discussions held between the main participants of the project and a public audience. Two themes emerged through the stimulating debates: first, the need to ensure that the facsimile, with its potent message about the role of indigenous communities in protecting the environment, reaches an international audience; second, that it reaches its final destination of Xingu, for it to continue its role of transmitting ancestral knowledge to future generations.

Read more about the project here, or watch the film here. You can also listen to a BBC Radio 4 podcast, 'An Orchestra of the Rainforest', following the collaboration of Factum's Nathaniel Mann with the singer Akari Wauja, here.

Columbia University graduate fieldwork in Venice
Columbia University graduate fieldwork in Venice

Graduate students from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) spent the week of 7th-11th October recording elements of the Prioral Palace and Church of the Order of Malta in Venice and processing the resulting data at the ARCHiVe headquarters on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.

The fieldwork forms part of the Advanced Preservation Technology Studio, an annual course taught by Carlos Bayod and Adam Lowe at GSAPP, with the participation of other Factum Foundation experts during the onsite element of the teaching. Previous cohorts have recorded at San Marco in Venice, the Casa de Pilatos in Seville, and the chapel of San Baudelio in Soria in northeast Spain. This year, the students benefitted for the first time from the unique teaching and processing facilities available at the ARCHiVe offices.

The 10 course participants, together with two Factum interns, used the Lucida 3D scanner, photogrammetry, panoramic composite photography and LiDAR scanners to document a series of artworks and architectural elements on site. Thanks to extraordinary team work, over just a few days they were able to digitize, among other artefacts, an altarpiece by Bartolomeo Bergamasco (previously located in the church of San Gimignano in St. Mark's square), a series of tombstones in a state of rapid deterioration, a set of 14th-century frescoes, and the painting of the Baptism of Christ by Giovanni Bellini. The frescoes will be the object of virtual restoration in the second half of the course. In collaboration with IUAV's Photogrammetry Lab, the main spaces in the complex were also recorded in 3D.

The project demonstrates the focused collaboration among multi-disciplinary teams which is necessary for the high-resolution recording, preservation, study, and presentation of historical sites.

More information will follow soon.

Next year at the British Museum: new exhibition on the Bakor Monoliths
Next year at the British Museum: new exhibition on the Bakor Monoliths

Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary in November 2020 of the ‘UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transport of Ownership of Cultural Property’, Factum Foundation is collaborating on an exhibition at the British Museum focused around the Bakor monoliths, also known as the ‘Cross River’ or ‘Ikom’ monoliths.

One of the most unique expressions of African art, the Bakor monoliths and their sites have suffered deeply through fire, theft and neglect in the decades since the Biafran Civil War of the late 1960s, which engulfed the region in which they are found in eastern Nigeria. Since 2016, Factum Foundation has collaborated with the Trust for African Rock Art and the University of Calabar to document and preserve the monoliths on-site and in international collections using cutting-edge 3D scanning technologies. The exhibition will feature the results of this collective endeavour, including 1:1 facsimiles of monoliths that were removed from the country and other documentary materials.

Following the conclusion of the exhibition at the British Museum, it will travel to be displayed within Nigeria, finally returning to the Bakor region where it will promote the ongoing conservation of the monoliths and their sites in a permanent display.”

Find out more

New collaborations focussing on the Spanish Golden Age
New collaborations focussing on the Spanish Golden Age

Spanish painting, the original reason that Factum was established in Madrid, is the focus of a great deal of our attention.

Following successful collaborations with Casa Ducal de Medinaceli, the Hospital de la Caridad, the Museo del Prado and other institutions, Factum is now working with both The Auckland Project (the Spanish Gallery and the Zurbarán Centre which is part of Durham University) and with Casa Natal de Velázquez in Sevilla.

Both of these initiatives will result in high-resolution recording, digital restorations, installations and facsimiles in northern England and Sevilla.

More news on these exciting projects will follow soon.

The recording of Raphael’s Cartoons at the V&A
The recording of Raphael’s Cartoons at the V&A

In August 2019, a team of 3D recording and high-resolution panoramic photography specialists from Factum Foundation carried out the recording of the Raphael Cartoons at the V&A, which have been loaned by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection. This project was one of Factum Foundation’s most ambitious digitisation works undertaken to date.

Over a period of five weeks, three teams worked around the clock to digitise the 115 sqm of the Cartoons' surface, recording the Cartoons in colour, infra-red and 3D at a resolution of up to 10,000 points/cm2. On any one day in August, up to four Lucida 3D scanners were to be found at work in the galleries, poised on scaffolding three metres above the ground, and by night the space was lit up by the flash of hundreds of photographs. It was a project which required meticulous planning and recording innovations to suit the specific requirements of the artworks, as well as close coordination with the teams from the V&A, Royal Collection Trust and Momart.

Over the coming months, the data will be processed in Factum Foundation's Madrid workshops: hundreds of overlapping 3D scans will be stitched together, and the datasets for colour and 3D will be merged to produce multi-layer records of the seven Cartoons.

The results will set new standards for cultural heritage documentation, allowing these masterpieces of Renaissance art to be seen up close as never before.

Recreation of <i> Six Sunflowers in a Vase </i> on show in Tokyo exhibition
Recreation of Six Sunflowers in a Vase on show in Tokyo exhibition

The exhibition ‘Superclone Cultural Properties’ (Sep. 16 –29) at the Tokyo University of the Arts Museum introduces the concepts and material realities that lie behind the reproduction of cultural heritage. The University is currently deeply engaged in research and development relating to cultural heritage protection and the creation of faithful reproductions of cultural assets from around the world.

Factum Foundation participates in this exciting project with a re-creation a lost painting by Vincent Van Gogh – Six Sunflowers in a Vase (1888). The painting, which once belonged to a Japanese collector, was destroyed in the American bombing of Ashiya in 1945. With very little material evidence of the original – one black & white collector’s photograph and a small colour image – Factum’s experts in digital restoration produced a striking recreation of the original based on Van Gogh’s Sunflower paintings dating from the same period. The project was filmed for the documentary series ‘Mystery of the Lost Paintings', produced with Ballandi Multimedia and broadcast by Sky Arts.

Find out more about the recreation of Six Sunflowers in a Vase.

The Egyptian National Commission for UNESCO gives its patronage to the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative
The Egyptian National Commission for UNESCO gives its patronage to the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative

The Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative and its ongoing training programme through the 3D Scanning, Training and Archiving Centre at Stoppelaëre House received the patronage of the Egyptian National Commission for UNESCO.

The TNPI is being run by an entirely Egyptian team supported by Factum Foundation, producing some of the best 3D data that is possible with today's technology. Resolution is vital for many uses that are emerging. The correspondence between the 3D data and the relief carving in the tomb of Seti I makes it essential for condition monitoring and assessing of the vulnerability of the painted walls. In Madrid, we are constantly working to improve both the resolution and the speed at which the data is recorded.

Factum Foundation needs support to carry out the varied and important projects we are generating. Both support for specific projects and more general support is welcomed. If you would like to contact us directly, please write to Adam Lowe at or call +34 915 50 09 78.

Factum Foundation is developing both hardware and software that are having a real impact on preservation and interpretation. It was the high-resolution recording in the burial chamber of Tutankhamun that enabled Nicholas Reeves to develop his theories. A new paper by Reeves has recently been published on

Recording Michelangelo's <i> Epifania </i> at the British Museum
Recording Michelangelo's Epifania at the British Museum

On 29 July, Adam Lowe and Carlos Bayod participated in a Study Workshop at the British Museum and presented the results from the recording of Michelangelo's Epifania cartoon.

A few weeks earlier, Factum Foundation used high-resolution 3D scanning to digitise the surface of Michelangelo's Epifania (1550-1553), a collaboration with the Department of Collections Care at the British Museum.

The results of the 3D scan were mapped onto other datasets, including the colour recorded at a resolution of more than 850dpi by Gabriel Scarpa, UV, IR and other historical images to create a layered archive of information that can be used for in-depth research into the cartoon's creation and history.

For the week-long recording, the fragile cartoon could only be positioned flat on a purpose-built supporting platform, which meant Factum had to design a new horizontal configuration for the Lucida 3D Laser Scanner, to enable the digitisation of this large-scale object.

The lost silver map of Al-Idrisi

Factum Foundation’s recreation of the lost silver map of Al-Idrisi is now complete. The map, a reconstruction of a lost 12th-century original following a 16th-century Ottoman copy, was exhibited at Daniel Crouch Rare Books at the Masterpiece London art fair, and will be on view at the exhibition ‘Talking Maps’ at the Bodleian Library in Oxford until 8th March 2020.

The 12th-century cartographer Al-Idrisi drew on centuries of Greek, Roman, and Islamic mapmaking knowledge to create a vast silver map of the world for Roger II of Sicily. Although the silver disc is now lost, Al-Idrisi’s geography is known through later copies of a book of 70 regional maps which he created to accompany it.

Over the past three years, Factum Foundation has used the most advanced digital technologies to create a new interpretation of Al-Idrisi’s map, which has been routed onto silver using CNC milling. Find out more about the history of the map and the technologies used to recreate it here

Recording a 19th-century relief map of Jerusalem
Recording a 19th-century relief map of Jerusalem

In July 2019, a team from Factum Foundation used photogrammetry to record a 1:500 scale model of Jerusalem - the first topographic relief to aim for scientific accuracy. The hand-painted zinc model, which measures 4.5x5m, was made between 1864 and 1873 by a Hungarian Catholic bookbinder, Stephen Illés, and shows the city when it was still under Ottoman rule before the British Mandate divided it into four quarters.

A sensation at the 1873 World’s Fair in Vienna, the map was eventually purchased by public subscription in Geneva and displayed there for four decades. In 1984, it was sent on permanent loan from the Maison de la Réformation S.A. in Geneva to the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem, where it is currently on display. Factum Foundation has recorded the relief for ARCH (Alliance to Restore Cultural Heritage in Jerusalem).

Book launch: ‘Antonio Canova. Atelier’

A new book, Antonio Canova. Atelier, tells the story of the ongoing collaboration between Factum Foundation and the Musei Civici di Bassano del Grappa, a project which is transforming the conservation and display of drawings and sculptures by the neoclassical sculptor. The book has been edited by the museums’ director Chiara Casarin in collaboration with the founder of Factum Foundation Adam Lowe.

Since 2016, Factum Foundation has worked with the museums to digitise 18 of Canova’s albums and sketchbooks, create facsimiles of two albums and of a terracotta maquette of the Three Graces, and digitally restore a 4-metre high statue of a horse. You can find out more about these projects here.

The new volume tells the story of these artworks from their creation in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to their technological transformation today.

Purchase now.

Developing new technologies for 3D scanning
Developing new technologies for 3D scanning

Factum Foundation is constantly looking for new ways to record accurate information of the surface of paintings. Currently in development is the photometric scanner, a fast, portable system that will be capable of recording high-resolution 3D surface texture for both visualisation and re-materialisation.

The scanning system will be based on the techniques known as photometric stereo. It uses computational methods to extract detailed information about the surface of an object using 2D images taken under specific lighting arrangements. Factum’s scanning system will integrate data from other 3D recording techniques with photometric-stereo-derived depth maps to produce 3D data with a closer correspondence to the original surface than currently captured by the Lucida 3D Scanner, designed by Manuel Franquelo with the team from Factum.

The research is being developed by Jorge Cano and Enrique Esteban and Abhijit Dhanda from the Carleton Immersive Media Studio (CIMS) at Carleton University, Canada. Adam Weigert from CIMS has also made significant contributions to the development.

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