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Cultural Preservation in the age of Coronavirus: an online event with Contra Journal
Cultural Preservation in the age of Coronavirus: an online event with Contra Journal

Wednesday 9th September - 6:30 PM (UK)
> Watch the online event <

Contra is a not-for-profit annual magazine and arts organisation that explores the complex relationship between visual culture and conflict. The third issue of the magazine will feature the work of Factum Foundation with the Wauja community in recreating the sacred cave of Kamukuwaká, which was vandalised in 2018.

An online discussion retraced the steps of this project, which was completed a year ago. The importance of preserving cultural heritage in the face of iconoclastic vandalism is now more important than ever. Representatives of the Wauja community, People's Palace Projects and Factum Foundation talked about the impact of the 3D physical reconstruction a year later, and also about the impact of Covid-19 on indigenous communities in Mato Grosso.

More on the sacred cave of Kamukuwaká project

The recording of paintings
The recording of paintings

After an intensive summer of recording at Wilton House, Ortigia island in Syracuse, the Hospital de la Caridad, the Queen's Gallery, Apsley House and the scanning of various privately-owned works of art, several of the Lucida 3D Scanners are back for servicing.

This system, or a variant of it, has been in use at Factum for 20 years. Conceived and developed by artist and engineer Manuel Franquelo with Factum Arte, the Lucida 3D Scanner still is the only system to date that can record the surface of entire paintings at a resolution that is meaningful for replication.

Over the past months, there has been a vast amount of interest in Factum Foundation's scanning of paintings - with Coronavirus and social distancing, blockbuster shows of originals, requiring large visitor numbers to justify costs, are out. The exact facsimile of the Raphael Cartoon The Sacrifice at Lystra, part of the show 'Raffaello 1520 - 1483' at the Scuderie de Quirinale, is establishing a new approach:

'Technology, provided again by Factum Arte, enables the juxtaposition of a facsimile of Raphael’s cartoon of the Sacrifice at Lystra (around 1515-16) with the respective Vatican tapestry. The educational impact for the general public is indisputable; now scholars have to face the challenge of inserting these new tools into their research and exploiting their potential, before they are once more outwitted by commercial applications.

The exhibition implicitly urges collaborations beyond the borders of museums and disciplines.

Arnold Nesselrath, The Big Review: Raphael at the Scuderie del Quirinale
The Art Newspaper, August 2020

More on the Lucida 3D Scanner

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The recording in 3D and colour of two paintings <br> by Valdés Leal
The recording in 3D and colour of two paintings
by Valdés Leal

In July 2020, a team of experts from Factum Foundation travelled to Seville to record two paintings by Valdés Leal: In Ictu Oculi and Finis Gloriae Mundi. This was done in collaboration with the Real Hermandad de la Santa Caridad de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, in the Church of San Jorge.

The high-resolution recording in 3D and colour was carried out with the aim of rematerialising and disseminating the importance of both paintings by Valdés Leal, in the form of exact facsimiles which will be made at Factum's workshops.

The high-resolution surface data was recorded using the Lucida 3D Scanner, while the colour was recorded with panoramic composite photography and the frames using close-range photogrammetry.

2022 will also be the 400th anniversary of the birth of the major Spanish Baroque painter. After a previous collaboration on two of Murillo's masterpieces in 2018, Factum Foundation and the Real Hermandad de la Santa Caridad are looking into collaborating with key international institutions which are dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of Spanish Art, with the aim of celebrating the importance of La Caridad's unique artistic and cultural assets.

Recording the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore
Recording the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

From 6th to 17th July, a team from Factum Foundation was in Venice to carry out the recording of the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Working with the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Iconem, the aim was to record the entire island using several recording methods such as aerial and ground-based photogrammetry and LiDAR recording.

This initiative will serve as a pilot project to record the whole of Venice. Factum Foundation and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini have been working together since 2006 and launched ARCHiVe (Analysis and Recording of Cultural Heritage in Venice) in 2018.

The migration of a painting: a recreation of Raphael’s <i>Lo Spasimo</i> returns to Palermo as a panel painting and is installed into its original frame
The migration of a painting: a recreation of Raphael’s Lo Spasimo returns to Palermo as a panel painting and is installed into its original frame

On 9th July, Factum Foundation’s recreation of Raphael’s Christ Falls on the Route to Cavalry, nicknamed Lo Spasimo di Sicilia, was installed in the monastery of Santa Maria dello Spasimo in Palermo, where the painting hung until the middle of the 16th century.

The original painting by Raphael, now in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, was transferred from a wooden panel onto a canvas after being taken to Paris by Napoleon, during the Spanish War of Independence. Factum Foundation addressed this fact with the recreation of the painting on a rigid panel, in order to install it into its original frame in its original location in Palermo.

The return of Lo Spasimo to Palermo coincides with the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death. It also coincides with a series of high-resolution recording, facsimile and recreation projects by Factum Foundation, as well as several exhibitions and a publication about the role of new technologies for the preservation, sharing and understanding of cultural heritage.

More on the recreation

Press release: English | Italian

Resuming work in the Valley of Kings
Resuming work in the Valley of Kings

The Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative's team and Factum Foundation are glad to announce that work has restarted in the Valley of the Kings, after the shutdown imposed by the COVID-19 crisis. After more than 100 days of interruption, the TNPI team is the first mission to resume work and will pursue the high- resolution recording in 3D and colour of the entire tomb of Seti I. The Burial Chamber and Corridor G will be the main points of focus for the next days. This was made possible with the support of the Ministry of Antiquities.

In line with the Ministry of Antiquities' COVID-19 safety measures, the team returns at a 25% of workforce: Aliaa Ismail, Abdo Ghaba, Mosa El-Sayed and the appointed inspector Mohamed Wahba are keen on resuming this ambitious project and on completing the recording of the entire site.

Recording and rematerialising the whole of the tomb of Seti I and all known scattered fragments is the current main goal of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative, mainly funded by the Factum Foundation with the generous help of international donors. We would like to thank the following individuals and entities for their constant support: his Excellency the Minister of Antiquities Dr. Khaled Anany, the Secretary General of the Supreme council of Antiquities Dr. Mostafa Waziri, the permanent committees of the Ministry of Antiquities, Dr. Mohamed Abd El-Badee, Dr. Nashwa Gaber, Director of Upper Egyptian Antiquity Dr. Mohamed Yehia, Director of West Bank Antiquity Dr. Fathy Yassin, the Director of West Bank Missions Dr. Ramadan, Director of the Valley of Kings Mr. Aly Reda. Furthermore, the TNPI team thanks the staff and the guards, who have welcomed and encouraged their return on-site.

More on Seti I

Fragments of Diego Velázquez' life
Fragments of Diego Velázquez' life

Working in collaboration with Seville's Archivo Histórico Provincial, Parroquia de San Pedro and Parroquia de San Juan Bautista, a team from Factum Foundation recorded in high resolution a selection of documents related to Diego Velázquez' life. Exact reproductions of these documents, in addition to facsimiles of paintings and recreations of the objects that appear in them, will become part of the permanent exhibition itinerary of the Casa Natal de Velázquez, due to open in 2021.

Thanks to digital technology, this collection of unique objects will help putting in context the artist's early years in Seville. The documents include Velázquez's certificate of baptism, his contract of apprenticeship under Francisco Pacheco and his official certificate of acceptance into the guild of painters.

More on the Casa Natal de Velázquez

New video: Recording 'An Old Woman Cooking Eggs' by Diego Velázquez

On the 4th and 5th February 2020, a team from Factum Foundation carried out the high-resolution digitisation in 3D and colour of An Old Woman Cooking Eggs at the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh. In this video, Aidan Weston-Lewis, chief curator at National Galleries of Scotland, and Enrique Bocanegra, director of the Casa Natal de Velázquez, talk about the importance and relevance of this collaboration and the potential for digital technologies to recover Velázquez’ legacy, as part of a wider collaboration with CEEH (Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica).

A film by Óscar Parasiego for Factum Foundation

Recording Van Dyck at Wilton House
Recording Van Dyck at Wilton House

Before the shutdown of museums in the UK, a team from Factum Foundation was in the process of recording Anthony van Dyck's Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke, with his Family held at Wilton House, near Salisbury.

Through a high-resolution recording in 3D and colour, it will be possible to generate an archive of the painting's surface as a resource for conservation, study and dissemination purposes. The data, which will belong to the owner of the painting, could also be used to make an exact facsimile of the painting if required in the future.

The colour recording of the painting was completed in March employing panoramic composite photography, and the recording of the surface relief using the Lucida 3D Scanner has been carried out from July 6th to 23rd. We hope that this major project will be the first of many digital preservation initiatives involving English Heritage.

More on the project

Greenlight on renovation works for Casa Natal de Velázquez and next steps
Greenlight on renovation works for Casa Natal de Velázquez and next steps

On June 10th, the urban planning committee at Seville’s city council authorised the beginning of construction works that will create the Casa Natal de Velázquez, an interpretation centre inside the painter's birthplace in Seville. The project is in collaboration with CEEH and supported by the Sevilla City Hall.

The facsimile of the Old Woman Cooking Eggs, recorded in February at the National Galleries of Scotland, is in its last stages of production. The next paintings to be recorded are the The Waterseller of Seville (1618–1622) and Two Young Men Eating at a Humble Table (1618–1620) in the Wellington Collection at Apsley House. The recording will start as soon as the quarantine the UK is lifted.

More on the Casa Natal de Velàzquez project

Preliminary research and diagnostics begin on <i>The Assumption of Mary and Saints</i>
Preliminary research and diagnostics begin on The Assumption of Mary and Saints

The winner of Bando Lucida 2020, The Assumption of Mary and Saints attributed to the workshops of Sandro Botticelli, in the Monumental Complex of Pilotta in Parma has been recorded with the Lucida 3D Scanner in Factum Foundation's Milan headquarters. The digital data will be of use during the phases of research and diagnostics preceding its restoration in the Open Care facilities.

The competition is sponsored by Open Care and Factum Foundation with the support of Euromobiliare Advisory SIM.

Find out more about Bando Lucida and Lucida Lab Milan

<i>The Materiality of the Aura. New Technologies for Preservation</i>
The Materiality of the Aura. New Technologies for Preservation

On the second floor of Palazzo Fava, as part of the exhibition The Revealed Masterpiece that celebrates the return to Bologna of the Polittico Griffoni, visitors will be able to muse upon and engage with different applications of technology. The exhibition, curated by Adam Lowe, Guendalina Damone and designed by Carlos Bayod Lucini will explore the role of digital technology and reflect upon an object’s materiality and its “aura”.

The exhibition is open on appointment only, from May 18th 2020 until January 10th 2021. Visitors can purchase the tickets on Genus Bononiae's website.

Each of the six rooms will allow the visitor to engage with works of art in new ways, showcasing projects carried out by Factum Foundation since its creation in 2009. The city of Bologna, where Factum Foundation has been involved in projects since 2010, is the unifying factor tying together many of the rooms.

‘The Aura in the Age of Digital Materiality. Rethinking preservation in the shadow of an uncertain future’ (Silvana Editoriale, 2020) is a collection of essays looking at a variety of themes revealed by the application of new technologies in cultural heritage: from emerging machine-learning and artificial intelligence to access to digital information and the training of locals to carry out diverse types of digital recording resulting in the effective preservation and sharing of cultural heritage. The book is meant to accompany the exhibition and can be purchased from Factum Foundation's shop or read online.

Learn more about the exhibition

Chief Sylvanus "Orlando" Akong
Chief Sylvanus "Orlando" Akong


It is with great sadness that Factum Foundation reports the passing of Chief Sylvanus Akong, known to his friends as Orlando, and recognised by all as a friend of the Bakor monoliths.

In his early career, Orlando was an educator and he successfully founded and ran two schools. Then, in 1983 he was appointed by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, at the recommendation of the great Nigerian archaeologist Ekpo Eyo, as the curator of the Alok Open Air Museum, located in his home village.

Respected and admired throughout the Bakor communities, Orlando was an invaluable source of knowledge and help to UNICAL, ABU, Factum Foundation and the Trust for African Rock Art's collaborative project to preserve the monoliths and he will be sorely missed by all those who encountered him.

For more information about the project, click here.

1/2/3 May 2020: Online discussions organised by The Art Newspaper and Factum Foundation, with Il Giornale dell'Arte
1/2/3 May 2020: Online discussions organised by The Art Newspaper and Factum Foundation, with Il Giornale dell'Arte

The three, 80-minute, online discussions brought together contributors to Factum Foundation’s new book, The Aura in The Age of Digital Materiality – Rethinking Preservation in the Shadow of an Uncertain Future, with other experts from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds. The discussions considered the increasing prominence of high-resolution recordings of cultural heritage and their place in the display spaces of the present and the future.

Discussion 1 - Friday 1 May - 17:00 BST, 12:00 EST
Discussion 2 - Saturday 2 May - 17:00 BST, 12:00 EST
Discussion 3 - Sunday 3 May - 17:00 BST, 12:00 EST

More information about the event here

Progress following the recording in Easter Island: the eye of the Moai?
Progress following the recording in Easter Island: the eye of the Moai?

In early March, a team of photogrammetry and LiDAR experts from Factum Foundation travelled to Easter Island at the suggestion of Francisco Torres Hochstetter, to start a high-resolution recording initiative made possible by a generous donation from Sir Paul Ruddock.

During this trip, Pedro Miró and Ferdinand Saumarez Smith recorded an object regarded as an "eye" of the Moai, found in 1978 and now in the Museo Antropológico Sebastián Englert. The data has been processed into a 3D render that can be shared with experts to help with further studies.

Will it be possible to match the "eyes” to specific Moai in the future? High-resolution recording and new technologies are making many things possible.

Learn more about the recordings on Easter Island

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.

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.

You can now watch the full video about this project on our Vimeo.

New publication available: <i>The Aura in the Age of Digital Materiality. Rethinking preservation in the shadow of an uncertain future</i>
New publication available: The Aura in the Age of Digital Materiality. Rethinking preservation in the shadow of an uncertain future

This publication focuses on Factum Foundation's work to promote the use of high-resolution recording, digital restoration and creative re-materialisation while bringing into focus the changing attitudes towards owning, sharing, preserving and displaying cultural artefacts. It accompanies the exhibition 'La Riscoperta di un Capolavoro' (12 March - 28 June 2020, currently postponed) at Palazzo Fava, Bologna.

Order now from Factum Foundation's shop

Read the online version

New video available: <I>A quick guide to Factum’s multi-layered browsers</I>
New video available: A quick guide to Factum’s multi-layered browsers

Factum Foundation has developed a multi-layered browser that enables the visualisation of the 3D scanned relief data, as well as the colour data of digitised artifacts, at an extremely high resolution. The multi-layered viewers allow you to move around the scanned surfaces and zoom into macro-level photographic data with a resolution of 400 dpi on a scale of 1:1. This allows the inspection of every single detail of the artifact, from any computer screen or mobile device.

Surface relief data has been recorded either with Factum’s Lucida 3D Scanner or with photogrammetry. Colour data has been recorded using either panoramic photography or photogrammetry and all colour management has been performed by Factum. Please note that different monitors, display screens or browsers can all give different impressions of the colour data.

Other data such as X-Ray and Infrared, if shown in a viewer, has been provided by the owner of the object and mapped onto the relief or colour data by Factum.

This new video will help you understand how to navigate the browsers.
Access Tutankhamun's Tomb browser
Access Factum's browsers

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