“There are now more than 1,000 objects of the Museum’s collections online in 3-D at the website http://virtual.imnh.isu.edu/, which went live in late September.
“This is a monumental project for the Idaho Museum of Natural History and the Informatics Research Institute that will bring the natural history of our state to the world,” said Leif Tapanila, IMNH director. “Through 3-D digital modeling, we have put Idaho’s fossils and artifacts in the palm of your hand. We are one of the first museums to develop a comprehensive virtual platform for our collections. This is a huge task that is just beginning. We are adding new content every day and we plan to extend this model to the whole state.”
The project received major support from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and the Hitz Foundation.
“We couldn’t have completed this project without the generous support of these two entities,” Tapanila said. “We want to make our collections available to the maximum number of people for discovery, education and research to find new knowledge.”
“This is exciting for Leif Tapanila, an associate professor of geosciences and the director of the museum, because it opens new doors for everyone.
“[This has] the ability now to give accessibility, for education, for the public just to enjoy it or our researchers to take it and make knowledge out of it,” Tapanila said.
“The advantage is you’re not tied to the place that a unique object is stuck in,” Tapanila said. “In a museum, you aren’t able to pick up an artifact, but with our 3-D models you can move it any direction you want.”
The completion of this project will affect how artifacts are used in the classroom, and the process has not been without its obstacles.
One of the largest obstacles was the amount of data that was in each model. The amount of time it would take to load a full-detail model would leave people online waiting for far too long.
The solution was to cut the detail and resolution by approximately 90 percent, then overlay an image. The result was indistinguishable from the original, and just as accurate with measurements.”