University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Three-dimensional tour into the mysterious world of Ancient Egyptian Mummies. A stereo 3D film in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
Máté Petrik, Miklós Kázmér, Zsófia Végvári

Last modified: 2011-12-19


3D technology began as a life-savior for the movie industry but nowadays it is also available on mobile phones, television, internet, and in museums’ exhibitions as well. With the help of this technology the museums’ artifacts and scientific projects can now be displayed for the visitors in a highly spectacular way, which not only educates, but also entertains the visitors.

In spring 2011 The Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest started a comprehensive program (Budapest Mummy Project) for the interdisciplinary research of four mummified remains from the Egyptian Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. Beside Egyptological studies, the program also covered researches based on natural science and medical diagnostic techniques, such as CT-scanning, and also anthropological, chemical, and radiocarbon analyses.

One particular question has interested people for a long time: what kind of secrets do the Ancient Egyptian mummies hide? With the help of modern medical diagnostic techniques it is already possible for the researchers to look inside these mysterious human remains and study their inner details without damaging the extremely fragile relics. However, the experiencing of science should not be the privilege of researchers any more. The development of stereo 3D technology opened a new perspective for museum visitors to experience the adventure of scientific discoveries the same way as if they were personally participating, for example, in a modern mummy research project!

Along with the scientific study on the mummified bodies a complex 3D visualization and 3D content developing program has been built up to digitize the ancient artifacts and the scientific researches, and interactively explore them in 3D.

The first step in the 3D visualization of the mummy project was the 3D digitization of the mummies themselves and their original coffins by using a white light scanning system. The process leaves the original artifacts unharmed, while it creates high-definition and equivalently realistic (color-proof) models. Moreover, the skeletons of the mummies were rendered in 3D models by using CT-scans. These models, with an excellent raw data quality, could be easily reconstructed, enlarged, zoomed, put into context, and provided with further backgrounds or explanations.

The 3D raw data set on the Budapest mummies was rendered in stereo 3D format and placed into a virtual laboratory context (similar to the context of the original researches) for displaying the course and methods of the mummy researches and their results.

At the end of this complex edutainment program a 10 minute stereo 3D film (The virtual journey into the mysterious world of Egyptian mummies) was made, which complemented the “traditional” temporary exhibition (Mummies uncovered) in a separated 100 m2 hall with a 80-seat theater in the Museum of Fine Art, Budapest.


3D, 3D scanning, mummy project, edutainment