Previous News

Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

A new film and website have been created as part of the ongoing campaign to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Gavin Kingcome’s short film contains interviews with different people affected by the decision to close the foundry, from current bell-ringers to representatives of the East London Mosque, the foundry’s nearest neighbour, who were never consulted by the property developer about plans to convert the foundry into a boutique hotel.

The new website,, explains why the development proposal should be rejected and provides details of how to object. You can find latest campaign news, as well as further advice on letters of objection, on the Spitalfields Life blog here.

Factum Foundation remains committed to the campaign to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. In June last year, in collaboration with the UK Historic Buildings Preservation Trust, the Foundation put forward a proposal to reinvent the foundry for the future, explaining how an undated foundry will be able to integrate the latest digital recording, processing, and outputting technologies to create bells for the modern world.

Open call for the new edition of Bando Lucida 2019
Open call for the new edition of Bando Lucida 2019

Last year, Factum Foundation co-hosted the Open Care conference alongside the Italian art restoration experts at their Milanese laboratory, marking the second edition of the Bando Lucida initiative. This scheme aimed to return a deteriorated work of art to public use through supporting its restoration as assisted by Factum’s Lucida 3D Scanner, with the selection of the endangered piece carried out by an independent specialist committee.

The call for projects is now open for the 2019 edition of Bando Lucida. You can download the full text here.

The previous winner, the Angelo Annunciante by Gaudenzio Ferrari, was presented in its restored state at a conference on the 29th January 2019. This restoration process that took place at Open Care was explored alongside a series of talks, including one by Guendalina Damone from Factum’s Lucida Lab Milano.

© Open Care - Servizi per l'Arte

<i>Madame de Pompadour in the Frame</i>: An exhibition at Waddesdon Manor
Madame de Pompadour in the Frame: An exhibition at Waddesdon Manor

Factum Foundation is delighted to be collaborating with the Rothschild Foundation at Waddesdon Manor on an exhibition exploring the new perspectives which facsimiles can provide on existing works of art.

The exhibition centres around two facsimiles produced by Factum of works depicting Madame de Pompadour, the erudite and powerful mistress of Louis XV, by François Boucher; one being his monumental famous 1756 portrait, now displayed at Alte Pinakothek in Munich, and the other a small oil sketch held at Waddesdon. A combination of the Lucida 3D scanner and panoramic photography were utilised to record both the fine surface relief and colour of the canvas.

The facsimiles are presented at Waddesdon in an exhibition, organised by Factum Foundation and Waddesdon Manor and designed by Skene Catling de la Peña. Running from May 23 to October 27 2019, this allows visitors to examine the facsimiles and explore the process of making them; they are accompanied by objects and images relating to the paintings from Waddesdon’s superlative 18th century collections.

Further information on both the facsimiles and the exhibition can be found here.

Recording “The Circle” Stradivari with the Lucida 3D Laser Scanner
Recording “The Circle” Stradivari with the Lucida 3D Laser Scanner

Factum Foundation is collaborating with luthiers Julia Sarano and Robert Brewer Young on a pilot project to create a unique 3D study of a rare violin, with a precision measured in microns, as part of a multi-layered instrument archive. “The Circle” Stradivari, named for the partial circle inscribed on the back by the maker, is a celebrated instrument that dates from 1701 at the outset of Antonio Stradivari’s ‘golden period’. The instrument is generously on loan for this study from London violin dealers J&A Beare. Data recorded with the Lucida 3D Laser Scanner, will be used to scale a high-resolution photogrammetry model of the instrument. This can provide unique information for conservators, experts, collectors, scholars and makers.

Sarano and Young are working to build up a comprehensive catalogue of information on fine violins and other stringed instruments. This study will serve as an extension of the historic W. E. Hill & Sons archive.

Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry
Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

We need your help!

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry was the oldest continuous manufacturing business in Great Britain until its closure in 2017, a history of traditional bell casting that stretched back almost 450 years to 1570, counting Big Ben and the Liberty Bell amongst its extraordinary legacy.

Sold to Raycliff Capital due to financial pressure in an industry on the decline in the modern age, the US property developers have submitted plans to turn the historic foundry into a ‘bell-themed boutique hotel’; a complete disregard for the rich heritage of one of the UK’s finest cultural and historical assets, and for its rightful function as a bell foundry. More details on this shameful proposal can be found here.

Factum Foundation have partnered with the United Kingdom Historic Preservation Trust on a plan to re-open the foundry, re-equipped for the production of bells and art casting once again, which can be read in full here. You can help save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry by taking a moment to submit an objection to the boutique hotel proposal to the Tower Hamlets council. Information on how to do so can be found here.

Digital and physical reconstruction of the vandalised sacred cave of Kamukuwaká
Digital and physical reconstruction of the vandalised sacred cave of Kamukuwaká

The cave of Kamukuwaká, an important sacred petroglyph site representing the cosmogony of the inhabitants of Upper-Xingu (Mato Grosso, Brasil) and registered national monument was intentionally destroyed in 2018. Culture is under threat and digitisation of Cultural Heritage is the most effective way to monitor its condition.

The data captured from this trip was combined with photographic documentation dating from before the attack to produce an entire 3D recreation of the cave. The Wauja have been working with the team in Factum to ensure the digital recreation is perfect and that the petroglyphs are correct. The digital restoration is now complete and the data was materialised through a 3 axis CNC machine milling directly onto medium density polyurethane at a resolution of 200 microns. The high-resolution details from the digital restoration are being integrated manually onto the surface, before the application of an acrylic resin.

All resources are now being focused on the physical reconstruction of the cave that will be sent to Brazil upon completion.

Learn more.

Short video.

Training at Stoppelaëre House
Training at Stoppelaëre House

Since February 2019, the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative's training programme is ongoing at Stoppelaëre House, at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings. Entirely funded by the Factum Foundation thanks to generous donations, this landmark building was fully restored by the Tarek Waly Centre for Architecture and Heritage, in collaboration with Factum.

In February 2017, Stoppelaëre House was formally opened by Khaled El Enany, the Minister of Antiquities and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. Stoppelaëre House is at the core of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative. The inauguration brought attention to TNPI as a real innovator in the field of heritage management and sustainable tourism.

The 3D Scanning, Training and Archiving Centre is being run by Aliaa Ismail. Aliaa and the first two fully trained operators, Abdel Raheem Ghaba and Mahmoud Salem have started the training of Amany Hassan Mohamed Ahmed and Mahmoud Abdellah Mohamed Ammar, selected from 26 applicants proposed by the Ministry of Antiquities.

The training will be carried out throughout a period of six months and will ensure the transfer of the skills necessary for digital preservation, such as high-resolution 3D scanning, close-range photogrammetry, composite colour photography, data processing and archiving.

The development of local skills and economy is vital for the recording and preservation of cultural heritage. Factum Foundation needs financial support to fulfill its mission to safeguard the tombs of the Theban Necropolis through the application of new digital technologies, and the creation of exact facsimiles of tombs that are now either closed to the public for conservation or in need of closure to preserve them for future generations.

Cross River Monoliths
Cross River Monoliths

The Cross River or Ikom monoliths are some of the most important sculptural works in Sub-Saharan Africa. A team from Factum Foundation is travelling to Cross River State in eastern Nigeria to continue a collaborative project with the Trust for African Rock Art and the University of Calabar to document and preserve the Ikom monoliths. The main focus of the trip is to establish how and when monoliths, identified in a number of international collections, left the country. Factum will also continue to record the monoliths in 3D and colour. Luke Tchalenko will be accompanying Ferdinand Saumarez Smith. He is the first photojournalist to be trained under the Factum-Frontline initiative.

The image was taken during a visit to Emangabe monolith site: this is one of two sites that have had preservation initiatives. Unfortunately, it appeared that even in a ‘protected’ site, fires from the neighbouring plantations had crossed over the protective wall and burnt the monoliths.

Factum Foundation has recorded four important monoliths in the Metropolitan Museum (New York), Quai Branly (Paris) and two with a private dealer in Belgium. Learn more.

Back to Work in Luxor
Back to Work in Luxor

Factum Foundation are pleased to announce that work is now restarting in the tomb of Seti I, a critical step in completing one of the central goals of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative: to record and re-materialise the entire ancient site.

The recording of the Hall of Beauties, as well as a part of the main Burial Chamber and adjacent rooms, was completed in 2016. This resulted in the creation of an exact facsimile from the scanned data, exhibited at the Antikenmuseum in Basel in 2017-2018.

The partnership between Factum Foundation and the University of Basel, working under the supervision of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, aims to safeguard the tombs of the Theban Necropolis through the direct application of digital technologies and the transfer of skills and equipment to a local team.

The recording phase, mainly funded by the Factum Foundation with the generous help of international donors, is an essential step towards the long-term preservation of the site while promoting sustainable tourism in the region.

A facsimile of 'Maria Sèthe at the Harmonium' (1891)
A facsimile of 'Maria Sèthe at the Harmonium' (1891)

Factum Foundation have undertaken the reproduction of Maria Sèthe at the Harmonium (1891) by Belgian neo-impressionist painter Théo van Rysselberghe to be returned to its original context of La Nouvelle Maison, the modernist home the affluent sitter shared with husband and well-known Art Nouveau designer and architect Henry van de Velde.

Maria Sèthe belonged to a wealthy Brussels industrialist family with an interest in the arts and is pictured here with a harmonium, a type of small organ that was popular with the musical families of the 19th-century bourgeoisie. Van Rysselberghe's stylish portrait thus stands as an evocation of the fashionable artistic milieu of middle-class Belgium at this time, with this project to return the work to it's intended location part of an effort to recreate the original fabric of La Nouvelle Maison.

More on the recording and materialisation process behind this facsimile can be found here.

The 'Cimera de Jaime I'
The 'Cimera de Jaime I'

As part of their exhibition ‘Memory of the Kingdom, 600 years of Generalitat Valenciana’, the Generalitat Valenciana commissioned Factum Foundation to reproduce the ‘Cimera de Jaime I’, an extraordinary 13th century example of the famed Crown of Aragon crest: a rampant golden dragon. This took centre stage in the second part of the exhibition, installed in the Generalitat’s Gothic Court, that explored the historical evolution of the shields of the Kingdom of Valencia, beginning with Pedro el Ceremonioso; the origin of this particular crest.

The piece was recorded using photogrammetry in the warehouses of the Royal Armoury, whilst high-resolution photography was also used to capture the colour data, alongside physical colour sticks. Undertaken using a combination of modern techniques, such as 3D printing, with traditional painting methods and materials, including rabbit tail-based glue, the process behind creating this complex facsimile can be seen here.

Digitising Islamic Manuscripts in Dagestan, (2015-present)
Digitising Islamic Manuscripts in Dagestan, (2015-present)

The manuscript digitisation project at the IHAE in Dagestan has led to the discovery of a palimpsest with a 6th century Gospel of Luke. The original text was in the ancient Georgian script Asomtavruli written underneath a later Arabic text. It is one of only ten such manuscripts known to exist. Digitisation opens new avenues in scholarship ­– in this case, the high-resolution images of the palimpsest have been handed over to a Georgian specialist who continues the investigation into this unique object.

Since 2016, Factum Foundation has provided equipment, hardware, software and technical support to the IHAE’s Scanning Lab. This was done in collaboration with the Ziyavudin Magomedov PERI Charitable Foundation (Moscow, Makhachkala) and the Juma Al Majid Centre for Culture and Heritage (Dubai).

The idea behind this digitisation project is to make the archive of over 3000 manuscripts digitally available at IHAE to specialists around the world, eventually also by recording some of over 25,000 manuscripts that are known to be held in private Dagestani collections. The availability of this archive online will widen the scope of research into the history, languages and religions of the Caucasus.

Factum Foundation is in currently looking for additional funds to continue this important manuscript digitisation effort in Dagestan.

Read more about the progress of the digitisation here.

Support this project by clicking on this link

Scanning the <i>Mappa Turchesca</i>
Scanning the Mappa Turchesca

Factum Foundation has recorded the cherry-wood printing blocks (matrices) of the 16th-century “Mappa Turchesca”, in an ARCHiVe project undertaken together with two students from the Università Iuav di Venezia (IUAV). The heart-shaped map, now in the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice, has text in both Arabic and Ottoman Turkish, and was probably designed by Venetian cartographers for sale to Ottoman buyers. The recording will allow damaged portions of the map to be digitally restored and printed in 3D.

Mario Costa and Fabio Martinello, who have interned at ARCHiVe in Venice and Factum Foundation in Madrid, conducted comparative tests between different recording techniques: photogrammetry, laser scanning, and Factum’s Lucida scanner. They determined that the most accurate data was that provided by the Lucida scanner. Having scanned the map with Factum’s help, they will process this data to digitally restore the matrices, allowing the creation of digital and physical versions without the marks of decay which make it hard to decipher the surface of the original.

While the Ottoman Turkish text around the map claims that it is the work of a slave from Tunis called Hajji Ahmed, the distinctively European heart shape and several errors in the Ottoman Turkish and in the Arabic used for the place-names make it likely that the map was a fully Venetian production – albeit an extraordinary testament to the complex ways links between Venetian and Ottoman empires in a period of great trans-Mediterranean trade and connectivity.

More details on the recording process can be found here.

Canova's Equestrian Statue
Canova's Equestrian Statue

Following the success of the maquette recording of Canova's equestrian statue at the Museo Civico di Bassano del Grappa and under the initiative of Chiara Casarin, the director of the museum, Factum Foundation embarked on a much more ambitious project: to create a digital model of the horse from a 3-metre equestrian statue of Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies, the plaster prototype for which was made by Canova shortly before his death and finished - with many alterations - by his pupil Antonio Calì in 1827. Until the 1950s, the plaster sculpture was a focal point of the museum’s collection, but it was subsequently broken up to allow for the construction of a new lecture hall, with the parts stored in a local palazzo.

Most sections of the statue were scanned using a Breuckmann white light scanner, while fragments which required more complex surface mapping, such as the head and tail, were recorded using photogrammetry. The entire scanning project took two weeks.

Back in Madrid, the processed data was used to digitally restore the horse from the various fragments. To get an idea of how the pieces fit together, scaled versions were 3D printed and assembled manually. Once it was known how the pieces fitted together, the parts were reassembled digitally to create a 3D model. The model was 3D printed to allow the rematerialisation of the horse at a scale of 1:10, cast in bronze.

Digitising Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Digitising Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

In 2017, Factum Foundation documented two paintings by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo at the Hermandad de la Santa Caridad in Seville: the Miracle of the multiplication of the bread and fishes and Moses and the water from the rock of Horeb. The paintings, which had been removed from their usual locations high up on the walls of the Hermandad for conservation by the Instituto Andaluz de Patrimonio Histórico (IAPH), were recorded using the Lucida scanner and composite photography, whilst their frames were recorded using photogrammetry.

High resolution colour reproductions have been made from the data at a 1:1 scale; these will be displayed in the Hermandad de la Santa Caridad in a setting which will allow visitors to examine these magnificent works at close range.

Further information on the project can be found here.


Find out more about the processes behind photogrammetry: the 3D recording technique at the heart of many of Factum Foundation's projects.

Involving taking hundreds of overlapping photographs of an object from many different angles and processing them using specialised software, photogrammetry produces geometrically precise, but also highly detailed, 3D models of artworks and artefacts.

Francesco Salviati’s ceiling at the Palazzo Grimani, Venice
Francesco Salviati’s ceiling at the Palazzo Grimani, Venice

A sixteenth-century painted ceiling will be returned to the Palazzo Grimani in Venice in the form of a facsimile made by Factum Foundation. The ceiling, now in the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris, was painted by Giuseppe Porta, also known as Giuseppe Salviati and shows the dispute between Minerva and Neptune. Factum has recorded both the ceiling itself and the oval space which it once occupied, and will use this data to ensure that the final facsimile still fits into this original context.

The painting was commissioned for the Vestibolo della Tribuna in the Palazzo Grimani, and executed around 1565. In the late nineteenth-century it was sold, and some years later entered the collection which was to form the basis of the Musée Jacquemart-André.

As the painting is fixed to a ceiling in the Musée Jacquemart-André and could not be recorded using the Lucida 3D scanner, Factum Foundation used panoramic photography and photogrammetry to scan the work. The original oval ceiling in the Palazzo Grimani was also recorded, this time using a FARO scanner, to ensure that the eventual facsimile would fit into a space whose contours have changed over the course of a century.

Find out more.

Rembrandt's 'Portrait of an Old Man'
Rembrandt's 'Portrait of an Old Man'

Factum Foundation has collaborated with Océ - A Canon Company and the Mauritshuis Museum in the recording and reproduction of Rembrandt's Portrait of an Elderly Man (1667).

With 2019 marking the 350th anniversary of the Dutch Master's death, we are joining efforts to demonstrate how new technologies for non-contact digitisation and elevated printing can contribute to the preservation, study and dissemination of one of the artist's most notable works.

This project consisted of recording the original painting's relief and colour, carried out by a Factum Foundation team in The Hague. Both data sets were then used by Océ to create an exact 3D reproduction. More information on this process can be found here, whilst the high-resolution scan of the painting can be viewed in detail on our homepage.

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