£50,000 Art Fund Grant Supports 3D Costume Digitisation Project at Cornwall Museums Partnership

  • Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP) has received a £50,000 Respond & Reimagine grant from Art Fund to deliver a new, innovative approach to generating income for museums with the Beyond Digitisation project.
  • This partnership project with innovative tech start-up Purpose 3D will produce 3D models of costume collections at three museums – Royal Cornwall Museum, Penlee House Gallery & Museum and Bodmin Keep – to be made available to commercial markets such as the gaming and fashion industries.
  • The models will also be used to support innovative and inspirational new methods of enabling up-close digital engagement with collections when physically visiting and handling is less possible.
  • The project will run for 6 months, starting in December 2020 and running until June 2021.

Respond and Reimagine Grants Since the pandemic began, Art Fund has donated £2,250,000 to 67 projects across the UK through its Respond & Reimagine emergency response grants. The grants help museums to adapt and evolve for the challenges posed by the pandemic, from taking their collections online, to making their spaces Covid-safe. We are pleased to announce that Cornwall Museums Partnership has been awarded a Respond & Reimagine grant to deliver a new, innovative approach to generating income for museums through the Beyond Digitisation project. Beyond Digitisation: Creating Useful Digital Assets and Sustainable Income Streams The Beyond Digitisation project aims to unlock the potential of 3D digitisation technology and generate 3D digital assets of the costume collections at Royal Cornwall Museum, Penlee House Gallery & Museum and Bodmin Keep. This breakthrough project will support the museums to transform their approach to digital collections engagement and inspire new methods of interpretation. 3D scans offer more dynamic digital resources than 2D photographs, enhancing the visitor experience by allowing users to zoom, rotate and interact with collections in an engaging way not currently possible. Verity Anthony, Visitor Experience and Collections Manager at Bodmin Keep, says “The Beyond Digitisation project has been a fantastic opportunity to explore the possibilities open to us in using 3D models to bring our collections and Bodmin Keep to life, for education, engagement and interpretation both now and in the future.”

Two military uniforms from the collection at Bodmin Keep set up for the 3D digitisation capture process

CMP is partnering on this project with Purpose 3D, an innovative tech start-up based in Penryn who specialise in the 3D digitisation of vintage and historical clothing for commercial purposes and digital download. Harnessing cutting-edge photogrammetry technology, they produce authentic and realistic 3D models for commercial sectors such as the gaming and fashion industries.

Adam Tindall, co-founder of Purpose 3D, says “We feel very privileged to have such forward thinking institutions such as CMP and the 3 museums we are partnering with on our doorstep and their willingness to embark on a project embracing digital technology. Bringing history to life in 3D is really rewarding and we have been blown away by the depth of collection and history displayed by the museums of Cornwall. Hopefully the work we are doing will help to bring their collections to life, appeal to new and existing visitors and spread the word of the amazing collections and stories that lie in these amazing museums.”

Jeni Woolcock, Collections and Engagement Officer at Royal Cornwall Museum, says “We are really excited that this project will show our costume collection and let people really get close and see details such as lace, buttons, trimmings and even wear and tear. The collection is very fragile and vulnerable to light, so we aren’t able to display it as often as we’d like. It is the late 19th century trousseau of Edith Williams of Pencalenick. She married Reverend Sidney Cooper on 9th January 1890. Being a clergyman, he lived in a different social position, which might account for why she rarely wore the fashionable and expensive clothes. Their letters and 11 children indicate that they had a happy life. The trousseau passed down to her grandson until he kindly donated it to the museum. We are really pleased that this project has given us the opportunity to show this beautiful collection of fine gowns, day dresses and shoes.”

By bringing historic costume collections to life, the 3D models will make an attractive product for inclusion in digital products. The scans could be developed into military uniforms for a First World War animation, character costumes in a video game, or inspiration in a fashion designer’s studio. Such industries are becoming increasingly concerned with authenticity; Alexander McQueen’s 2020 autumn/winter collection was inspired by the collections and buildings at St Fagan’s National Museum of Welsh History.

Digitised 3D models of the costume collection at Bodmin Keep

Katie Herbert, Curator at Penlee House Gallery & Museum, says “Penlee House Gallery & Museum were thrilled to take part in this project as we have a wonderful collection of Crysede hand block printed silk and linen garments from the 1920s/30s. We don’t have much display space for costume within the museum so being able to have 3D photography of the garments means that we can offer far greater public access to the collection. The collection is extremely popular with fashion and textile students and being able to exhibit them online will provide an invaluable research tool.”

We are incredibly excited about this unique opportunity to create new 3D assets with museums and explore further opportunities to develop sustainable income streams. Beyond the financial and collections impact, successful commercial partnerships offer exciting potential to showcase Cornwall’s museums internationally. If a company with a popular game, film or product incorporates one of our scans this could catapult the museum collection into pop culture in a limitless way.