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The Raphael Cartoons at the V&A: the digital content is now available
The Raphael Cartoons at the V&A: the digital content is now available

On January 25th, the V&A launched a new online platform where the data from the Raphael Cartoons, recorded by Factum Foundation in high-resolution 3D, colour and infrared, was made available to the public for the first time. Through a new digital environment on the V&A’s website, users are now able to engage with the Cartoons in new ways and at an unprecedented level of detail. The dataset from the recording, which was supported by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, is accessible through a high-resolution multi-layer viewer where both the surface, colour and infrared information can be explored, ​with different datasets viewable either merged or separated out.

More on the recording at the V&A


Cultural Heritage and Conflict Resolution
Cultural Heritage and Conflict Resolution

Factum Foundation is thrilled that the European Commission has, for the first time, introduced Cultural Heritage as a key instrument in conflict prevention and conflict resolution in the Council Conclusions adopted on 6 December 2020. In a far-reaching move, the EU is spearheading an important shift in the way we understand culture and historical heritage, beyond the cliché of a tourist magnet associated with leisure and relaxation. We hope that this is the beginning of a new role that European Commission and the Member States can play in preserving our heritage and giving it a deeper and more relevant meaning in the political agenda.

We welcome the initiative presented recently by the Ambassador at large for Mediation and Intercultural Dialogue, Ramón Blecua, in the recent EEAS/UNESCO Conference, to hold an international conference in Toledo and create a platform that will promote projects in the field of cultural heritage and conflict resolution.


Progress on the Spanish Gallery installation for Bishop Auckland
Progress on the Spanish Gallery installation for Bishop Auckland

Between 2018 and 2020, in collaboration with Fundación Casa Ducal de Medinaceli, paintings, sculptures and architectural elements were recorded in high-resolution at various locations in Toledo and Seville. This data has now been processed and Factum's technicians and artisans are now focussing on adapting and recreating ceilings, tiles, floors and several other elements for the exhibition display at Bishop Auckland Castle.

The elevated printing technology by Canon Production Printing and Factum's expertise in printing the colour were essential in recreating the surface detail of the cuenca and cuerda seca-style Renaissance tiles that decorate the walls of Casa de Pilatos in Seville. The first recording was done in 2018 as part of a project carried out with the students of Columbia University.


Recording the chart of Juan de la Cosa at the Museo Naval in Madrid
Recording the chart of Juan de la Cosa at the Museo Naval in Madrid

From 25th to 27th January, Factum Foundation carried out the recording of the Chart of Juan de la Cosa, from the collection of the Museo Naval in Madrid.

Signed by the Spanish cartographer in 1500, the Chart of Juan de la Cosa is the first world map to depict America. The New World is rendered in green (a nod to its vegetation) and at larger scale than the monochrome Old World, and the map incorporates information from the many exploratory expeditions of the 1490s, such as those of John Cabot, Christopher Columbus, Bartolomé Diaz and Vasco de Gama. The map's large size (96 x 186 cm) and rich artistic decoration using Catholic themes make it probable that it was produced for Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic Monarchs of Spain.

Factum Foundation has recorded the parchment map using non-contact technologies: the Lucida 3D Scanner for the surface and composite photography for the colour. The digital data will belong to the Museo Naval for study and conservation purposes.

An exact facsimile of the map will also be produced and will be part of the exhibition display at the Spanish Gallery in Bishop Auckland, due to open in July 2021, and will subsequently be donated to the Museo Naval.

More on the recording
More on the Bishop Auckland project


Archaeologists' Day in Egypt
Archaeologists' Day in Egypt

On January 14th Factum Foundation and the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative team, with everyone from Luxor and the West Bank except Aliaa Ismail, TNPI’s lead, originally from Cairo but now based in Luxor, celebrated the Egyptian Archaeologists' Day.

Currently working in the tomb of Seti I, the TNPI was the first mission to resume work in July 2020 after more than 100 days of interruption imposed by COVID-19 crisis, and is the only Egyptian team devoted to high-resolution 3D recording in Luxor. Since July, progress has been made in scanning the burial chamber, Chamber F and Room Je.

We want to thank the University of Basel and the Ministry of Antiquities in Egypt for supporting the work of the scanning team, which is officially working in the Valley of the Kings since 2009, after Factum’s first project in Egypt in 2001.

You can browse the 3D virtual model of the tomb of Seti I, launched in September 2020 in collaboration with the University of Basel and the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, or view the individual high resolution browsers of each panel.

More on the TNPI
Read the TNPI 2020 Report


Fragments of the past: rematerialising Cardinal Tavera's tomb  in collaboration with the Museo Nacional de Escultura
Fragments of the past: rematerialising Cardinal Tavera's tomb in collaboration with the Museo Nacional de Escultura

In collaboration with the Spanish Museo Nacional de Escultura and in agreement with the Spanish Ministry of Culture, Factum Foundation carried out the recording of the missing fragments from the sepulchre of Cardinal Tavera, sculpted in 1552 by Alonso Berruguete. The white marble sepulchre was damaged during the Civil War and plaster fragments from the only cast of the original have been since kept in storage within the Museo Nacional de Escultura.

The data from recording of the plaster casts in high resolution will be digitally integrated into a 3D model of the sepulchre. This digital restoration project is part of an ongoing collaboration with the Fundación Casa Ducal de Medinaceli and it will allow the sculpture to be seen in its most complete state since the Civil War.


The hand of the artist from 3D surface data
The hand of the artist from 3D surface data

Factum Foundation has initiated a collaboration with a team from the Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, and Art History and Art Departments at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. The goal is to apply machine learning methods to surface profilometry images of paintings in order to attribute stylistic components of brushwork in some of the later paintings of El Greco, with the aim of exploring differences between the hand of El Greco, those of his son Jorge Manuel and his workshop, and later conservation interventions.

More on the project


The London Bell Foundry
The London Bell Foundry

The London Bell Foundry has been formed by the partnership that has spent almost four years fighting to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Our aim is to re-start casting bells on the site in Whitechapel where they have been made for hundreds of years.

While we await the decision of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government following the public inquiry, we will be launching a series of bell-related artist editions. More information will be posted as the work starts. Further information will follow shortly. We will be merging historic bell-making skills with new digital output and recording technologies.

On the Whitechapel Bell Foundry project

For updates, follow us on Twitter @SaveTheWBF


Preserving the Saudi heritage with RCU
Preserving the Saudi heritage with RCU

Factum Foundation is delighted to collaborate with the Royal Commission for AlUla on the ambitious project to preserve the heritage landmarks and cultural legacy of the Nabateans in and around the AlUla oasis. Following the first trip in October 2020, a second team travelled to AlUla in November to continue the recording at Hegra and begin work at Dadan.

Meanwhile, the first team have been processing the data captured during the previous trip, which is being supplied to the Royal Commission for AlUla.

More on the project


The Sacred Cave of Kamukuwaká recreation receives the Premio Rodrigo 2020
The Sacred Cave of Kamukuwaká recreation receives the Premio Rodrigo 2020

We are proud to announce that the recreation of the sacred cave of Kamukuwaká received the Rodrigo Award for the dissemination of knowledge, intangible heritage. The Premio Rodrigo is organised by the Brazilian National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (Iphan) since 1987.
More on the project
Read the article on Contra Journal, Issue III


AALTOSIILO: Factum Foundation and Oamk
AALTOSIILO: Factum Foundation and Oamk

Factum Foundation and the Oulu University of Applied Sciences (Oamk) are delighted to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding which establishes the terms of a collaboration between the two institutions. The project will offer an innovative research and training program that responds to theoretical, practical and ethical imperatives surrounding the use of new and emerging digital technologies for the conservation and rehabilitation of built heritage in the Nordic countries. Graduate students, PhD candidates, and post-doctoral fellows will have the opportunity to collaborate on interdisciplinary research and training with some of the world’s leading academics and professionals working with the application of digital technologies for architectural heritage.

Factum Foundation is working with Skene Catling de la Peña while fundraising is ongoing to support the restoration of this great building, empower the local community and open up the AALTOSIILO to an international audience dedicated to recording and revealing industrial architecture and the changing environment of the region. The renovation work is scheduled to start in Spring 2021.

More on the project

Press release (English | Finnish)


Royal Commission for AlUla and Factum Foundation to partner up on the recording of the largest archaeological site in Saudi Arabia
Royal Commission for AlUla and Factum Foundation to partner up on the recording of the largest archaeological site in Saudi Arabia

On 21st September 2020, Otto Lowe and Pedro Miró from Factum Foundation arrived in AlUla to start the largest high-resolution 3D recording project to be undertaken in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The work, commissioned by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), is planned to last for more than a year and will result in the production of a high-resolution 3D model of the Nabatean archaeological site of Hegra (also known as Mada’in Salih or Al-Ḥijr) as well as Dadan, Jabal Ikmah and Abu Ud.

The data from the recording of the historic landscape at AlUla (Hegra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), will be processed by Factum’s experts and will be handed over to the Royal Commission for AlUla. The RCU will own the data for all current and future applications. Extensive work is currently underway to find an aesthetically beautiful way to view the data so it can dynamically respond in real time.

This information will be critical for the preservation of this extraordinary site as it becomes the focus of the country's drive to attract cultural tourism. High-resolution recording will not only help attract visitors but it will be essential to record a site that has been overlooked for many years. Condition monitoring and conservation mapping will provide a detailed framework for the archaeologists working on the site.

Factum Foundation is delighted to collaborate with the Royal Commission for AlUla on this ambitious project to preserve the heritage landmarks and cultural legacy of the Nabateans in and around the AlUla oasis.

More on the project


'New Perspectives on Raphael' - online panel by the Warburg Institute

On 19th November, Michelle O’Malley from the Warburg Institute talked with Ana Debenedetti and Adam Lowe about the recording of Raphael’s Cartoons at the V&A in August 2019.

While the discussion focussed on Raphael, it also looked more generally at the role of digital recording in light of the museum closures and the restrictions caused by COVID-19. High-resolution recording, display and rematerialisation technologies have serious implications for the study, display and dissemination of works of art - both online and offline access will be increasingly important in providing access to culture.

The discussion is available at this link.


The Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative 2020 report
The Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative 2020 report

A new report on the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative is now freely available.

The Coronavirus pandemic has restricted work in Luxor since April, but in line with Egyptian regulations, a reduced workforce was able to return to the tomb of Seti I in July and TNPI was the first team to resume work in the Valley of the Kings.

2020 has seen a new global recognition of the importance of digital recording for documenting, disseminating and displaying cultural heritage. The crisis has also underlined the importance of the high-resolution 3D and colour recording that is being carried out by the TNPI. It suddenly became clear that heritage managers and organisations were lacking the digital assets required for a meaningful online presence. With international travel severely restricted for the foreseeable future, there is a pressing need for high-resolution data which is accessible in innovative forms and which can be used by many different audiences, from specialised scholars to the curious looking for something interesting to attract their attention.

The launch of the 3D model of the Tomb of Seti I was one of the important events during COVID. It is the start of something very important which we hope to unveil soon. The virtual tour is the result of countless hours of work and brings together a complete LiDAR model of the tomb interior with the high-resolution recordings in colour and 3D of both the walls of the tomb and fragments removed at different times. There is a visceral and functional difference between this form of high-resolution 3D display and those recorded at lower resolution which are more commonly found online but are seldom satisfying, engaging or meaningful.

More on TNPI


Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and Public Inquiry: closing statement
Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and Public Inquiry: closing statement

The Public Inquiry to decide the future of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which started on 6 October, has now finished. Paul Griffiths, the Inspector, expects to put his completed report to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government in early December. Please click here to access our closing statement, on behalf of Rupert Warren QC and Matthew Dale-Harris.

We wish to thank all 27,000 people who signed the petition, our supporters at the East London Mosque, the readers of the Spitalfield’s Life blog, and all those who have worked with us to reach this critical stage of our campaign to preserve and revitalise Britain’s oldest single-purpose industrial building. Factum Foundation and Re-Form Heritage are looking forward to the decision that will be made by the Secretary of State.

On the Whitechapel Bell Foundry project

For updates, follow us on Twitter @SaveTheWBF


Adam Dant's <i>The Bells of Whitechapel</i>
Adam Dant's The Bells of Whitechapel

“My print shows the historic significance of Britain’s oldest manufacturing business, across the globe and as a part of the deep fabric of London’s culture and community.

From St Mary le Bow, Cheapside, whose peal famously bestows the status of ‘cockney’ and was broadcast across occupied Europe as a clarion of freedom and liberty during the war, the bells of the City churches ring out. Stories of famous bells, such as the Liberty Bell, are detailed around the border which is decorated with a bellringing diagram.

Beyond Big Ben and Great Tom, a map of the globe is dotted with locations of a few of the countless bells the Whitechapel Foundry has cast. Its history spans the reigns of twenty-seven monarchs. Elizabeth II is depicted on her 2009 visit to this celebrated Whitechapel institution, in existence since the reign of Elizabeth I.

‘Oranges & Lemons’ has been updated to sing out the threat to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, being ignominiously transformed into a boutique hotel with bell casting reduced to the production of souvenir handbells in the lobby espresso bar.”

— Adam Dant

Bryars and Bryars, an antiquarian bookshop in Cecil Court, London, presents a bell-themed window built around Adam Dant's print 'The Bells of Whitechapel' and the Pangolin Editions cast from the 3D scan of a 1722 Spanish bell. Adam Dant's print can be purchased at Tag Fine Arts and makes a beautiful Christmas present, with 50% of the profits going to pay the costs of the public inquiry into the future of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.


Recording the back of the <i>Heart-shaped map of Hajji Ahmed</i>
Recording the back of the Heart-shaped map of Hajji Ahmed

In 2019, the Biblioteca Marciana started a project focussing on a new philological edition of the heart-shaped map of Hajji Ahmed (also known as Mappa Turchesca). The original cherry-wood printing blocks were recorded in high resolution in February, in an initiative led by ARCHiVe in collaboration with IUAV CIRCE Photogrammetry Lab, and made possible through a memorandum of understanding between IUAV University and the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice. Following the recording, the scanned data was CNC-milled to produce new printing blocks; from these, a copy of the map has been made. This is currently on show at Palazzo Fava, in Bologna.

Thanks to the data acquired with the Lucida 3D Scanner, a digital restoration of the map is now possible: the blocks which make up the matrix of the Ottoman-Venetian map have deteriorated considerably since they were first made and the digital restoration of missing parts - perhaps with multiple possible restorations for each part - will lead to a more complete 3D model. This will help conservators to identify the most appropriate actions to take in order to conserve the original object. Factum Foundation is now working in collaboration with the Biblioteca Marciana and the IUAV University to produce a facsimile of the digitally restored map.

A new recording of the printing blocks was carried out on 4, 5 and 6 November using the Lucida 3D Scanner, focussing especially on the back of the wooden panels.


Bakor Monoliths Project: recent updates

Since June 2019, Factum Foundation and the British Museum have been working together to host an exhibition centered on the Bakor Monoliths Project, which was due to open on November 14th 2020 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transport of Ownership of Cultural Property ratified on November 14th. Due to COVID-19, the exhibition has been postponed but plans are still progressing for the show to open at the British Museum, before touring to the recording sites in Nigeria and finally being installed in Alok as a permanent display - thanks to the generous grant of the Carène Foundation.

A recent operation by the United States Customs, which intercepted a cargo of illegally-trafficked Cross River monoliths at Miami Airport, shows how pressing the matter is in the current times.


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