Art & Sculpture

Going digital: Interview with the director of the Mougins Museum of Classical Art

When on the road with Scan the World, 3D Printing Industry got an exclusive insight into how and why museums and galleries are choosing to digitize their art collections.

In this interview with Leisa Paoli, director of the Mougins Museum of Classical Art in the south of France, we discover how 3D printing and scanning keeps historic collections current, more about creative curation and eclectic collecting.

The Venus cabinet in the Mougins Museum of Classical Art featuring works by Andy Warhol, Yves Klein, Salvador Dali and Cézanne. Photo by Jonathan Beck
The Venus cabinet in the Mougins Museum of Classical Art featuring works by Andy Warhol, Yves Klein, Salvador Dali and Cézanne. Photo by Jonathan Beck

A link to the past

The Mougins Museum of Classical Art (Also known as the Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins or MACM) is a collection of antique and classically  inspired contemporary artworks. It is located in a rural French village just north of Cannes.

Many pieces in the collection date from centuries BC, and MACM houses the largest private collection of helmets in the world. In an original style of curation, ancient pieces are placed next to contemporary artworks in the museum so visitors can physically see the links with the past.

MACM Director Leisa Paoli explains,

It’s all linked. It’s all stepping stones in fact, that we try and titillate people’s curiosity. We give hints, but then we let people see what they actually see themselves.

The museum has four floors in total, including a crypt with Egyptian and Roman mummy masks.

Inside the crypt of the Mougins Museum of Classical Art. Photo by Jonathan Beck
Inside the crypt of the Mougins Museum of Classical Art. Photo by Jonathan Beck

During my guided tour of the museum, Leisa explains,

There’s this whole crossover of the different civilizations, and they picked up each other’s traditions and rituals and beliefs and then adapted them to their own way of life, which we seem to forget. At school, they teach about the Egyptians, and then they teach about the Greeks, and then they teach you about the Romans. But it’s like, did all the Egyptians die and then it was all Greeks? Nobody talks about that grey area which is actually really quite fascinating.

The digital edge

3D scanning and then 3D printing replicas of the museum’s pieces is the next step in continuing this link with past. The first thought with 3D printed sculptures is often to create figurines to sell in the gift shop, but the collaboration gives back much more than that.

A marble Roman sarcophagus relief panel featuring eight of the nine muses. Part of the Mougins Museum collection dating back to AD 80 – 100.

With a handheld scanner like the Einscan-Pro from Shining 3D, structured light is used capture a data for a digital image. Gradually moving over the object, a digital replica is made in real-time on the screen, adding a sort of third eye to the scanner as a viewer.

Afterwards, there’s a significant sense of accomplishment of having completed and created something. This point-cloud data of the object is then turned into an .stl model, and then 3D printed, so there’s a very physical aspect to the digital recreation.

Point cloud scan of the relief panel.
Point cloud scan of the relief panel.

Scan the World routinely run workshops for museum visitors to scan sculptures themselves, and the project has already been a hit with London’s V&A. The plan is to help the MACM conduct similar workshops, tying in with events for children where a sculpture is chosen to be the center of a story. Leisa adds,

We’re a museum with a difference. And I’ve tried to promote the museum in a way where it’s actually a place where you can have a nice time. It’s not boring and you’re not just coming to see old objects. Just brush off that idea that some people have.

The pieces at MACM are part of a family collection started by commodity hedge-fund manager Christian Levett. 3D Printing Industry recently spoke with Levett about his collection in an interview including some of his personal favorites.

If you’d like to add to the ever expanding collection then Scan the World has a guide on to to get started with 3D scanning, and how to use a digital camera to get involved with the project. Scan the World encourages others to get involved. One Maker and YouTube host with a particularly ambitious project is 3D Maker Noob who plans to 3D print the entire Scan the World collection. You can follow his progress on twitter.

If you 3D print any of the collection, make sure you share the results with Scan the World.

To keep informed about 3D technologies used in the arts and cultural heritage, sign up to the 3D Printing Industry newsletter and follow us on our active social media sites.

The MACM 3D scans are available for download on MyMiniFactory.

Featured image shows the Mougins Museum of Classical Art Photo by Hegeslet