Virtual Marionettes: Surfacing a Museum Collection through Technology (Booth 7)

Mimi Roberts, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, USA, Jonathan Lee, NMHU, USA, Elizabeth Starks, New Mexico Highlands University, USA, Joey Montoya, New Mexico Highlands University, USA, Brandi Daw, New Mexico Highlands University, USA

Published paper: The Baumann Marionette Project: Virtual marionettes take the stage

This paper describes how a rare museum collection fueled a broad and diverse partnership and a new entity (the Cultural Technology Development Lab) and showcases some emerging technologies and processes ideally suited to preserving and providing access to fragile three-dimensional (3D) objects in museum collections and cultural heritage sites.

The Gustave Baumann marionettes were ideal subjects for interactivity. Because of their fragility, visitors are unlikely to ever see them in motion as they were designed. Being able to embody the models gives new life to these objects while giving visitors a new way of interacting with them in the museum, a space that is often considered hands-off.

The process of 3D scanning and modeling opens up a wealth of new opportunities for surfacing all kinds of objects in collections, not limited to marionettes. It can be applied to everything from sculpture and basketry to fossils and natural history specimens. Once the 3D models are available, they can be deployed throughout the institution, behind the scenes for research and conservation, on the exhibit floor, for enhanced visitor engagement and accessibility, and beyond museum walls, for education and outreach.