Overview

The original art gallery scanning system dates back to the early 1990’s when a much younger Gary Livingstone working for Time & Precision Industries was involved in the European sponsored project VASARI. The aim of the project was to standardise information gathered from the scanning of paintings in art galleries.

Scanning systems were supplied to the National Gallery in London, and The Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

Working closely with art and imaging specialists at the National Gallery, engineers designed and built a digitising scanner to study the gallery’s great paintings.

The stepper-driven 3-axis scanner provided resolution down to 10 microns, and a scanning speed of 25mm/second over a 2-metre horizontal travel, with a separate linear slide for accurate focusing of the camera.

A square ‘portal frame’ carries a 2-axis scanning camera to record a series of digitised images across the surface of the painting, allowing images to be digitally manipulated for analysis and study.

art gallery scanning system

Objectives

A system was required for precision scanning of paintings to gather valuable information such as colour change, detection of cracks, deformations or imperfections as part of a long-term historical and restoration project.

The objectives have not changed much, but the technology involved in the motion and imaging has moved on a great deal with our latest art gallery imaging systems.

Solution

The problem was solved using a component structure, which allowed the flexibility and rigidity for on-site installation.

  • A linear high precision cross roller slide was used for the critical focal axis.
  • To maximise the scan area, the camera was moved and the art remained static.
  • A process that has now changed as the requirements and technology evolved.
  • Fully motorised axis with limits and datum sensors
  • Full 4 axis drives and controls system with RS232 interface.

This original system remains in use today, albeit in a much-changed role.

Benefits Gained

  • Standardised information gathered from scanning the paintings.
  • Potential money saved from early detection of colour alteration, cracks and/or deformations.
  • A vast amount of data collected for analysis and future historical significance.

External Reference Material

Image Processing at the National Gallery: The VASARI Project
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/research/research-resources/technical-bulletin/image-processing-at-the-national-gallery-the-vasari-project

Imaging at the National Gallery in the VASARI project
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agCDd9oOPgE

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