Real and virtual: the role of computed tomography and 3D imaging in museum practice

Jaye McKenzie-Clark, John Magnussen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The role of a museum involves the acquisition, exhibition, conservation, communication and research of the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity, and plays an important part in the management of our cultural inheritance.
Commonly, however, audience interaction with museum collections is restricted because of the significance and value of the exhibits. To overcome this difficulty, museums frequently duplicate artefacts to facilitate tactile audience participation, thereby increasing the educational value of the assemblage. Traditional reproduction methods are problematic, however, in terms of the accuracy of the copy and the impact on the physical integrity of the original object. Similarly, conservation and research of museum collections often requires invasive techniques and investigative compositional analysis of artefacts, but this is also constrained because most analytical techniques employed today are partially or totally destructive.
This paper outlines the use of medical Computed Tomography (CT) and 3D printing in museum practice, and highlights the potential of these methods to achieve the key museum objectives of communication, conservation and research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA cultural cacophony
Subtitle of host publicationmuseum perspectives and projects
EditorsAndrew Simpson, Gina Hammond
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherMuseums Galleries Australia
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781741384499
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Computed Tomography
  • 3D imaging
  • 3D printing
  • museums
  • education


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