This lecture was presented at the 3D Digital Documentation Summit held July 10-12, 2012 at the Presidio, San Francisco, CA

The video is currently unavailable for this talk.

3D Digital Documentation as a Basis for the Finite Element Method in the Restoration of Tullio Lombardo’s Marble Sculpture of Adam

On October 6th 2002, one of the most important Italian Renaissance sculptures outside Italy tragically fell from its pedestal to the ground at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The late 15th-century marble Adam by the Venetian sculptor Tullio Lombardo shattered into 26 major fragments. This paper describes the use of 3D digital methods for three-dimensional imaging, the finite element method, and the various ways the scanned data was organized to produce physical and virtual models of Tullio Lombardo’s marble sculpture of Adam, for documenting, visualizing, designing, and testing to support the effort of its restoration. The digitally scanned data collected from the 26 major fragments offered virtual geometric representations of the broken sculpture and provided a basis for creating finite element models of the sculpture. At the time, there were no precedents for a stone sculpture of this complexity being digitized for the purpose of finite element studies. New and innovative methods needed to be explored, in order to create and work with the scanned data and the subsequent finite element studies. The structural finite element studies described in this paper utilized digital models constructed from the original scanned point cloud data, stereolithography polygon mesh files and NURBS surfaces. The studies compare results based on these different geometric representations. Finite element studies provided an opportunity to understand stress behavior present in the sculpture and test reconstruction methods, prior to assembly and restoration. The studies have established the total load carried across the carved surfaces and have determined the relationship between the loads and stresses present in the sculpture prior to restoration. These studies have also been extended by incorporating frictional interfaces in ANSYS Workbench Platform to model the adhesive interface response.

The results of the finite element studies have contributed important information necessary to determine the optimal properties a priori for various adhesives, pinning materials, support locations and armature methods considered in the restoration of Tullio’s Adam.

Speaker Bio

Ronald Street has been with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, since 1980 as Supervisor of Three-Dimensional Imaging, Prototypes, and Molding Studio. A trained sculptor and glass-artist, he worked in art foundries in the eastern United States, taught studio glass-blowing arts in Australia, studied traditional crafts in Iran and worked in collaboration with the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg before joining the Metropolitan Museum. During this time, Mr. Street has worked at various archeological sites including Dahshour in Egypt and Laetoli in Tanzania. His current projects include monumental “one of a kind” facsimiles for cultural exchange on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as commissions from the World Monuments Fund, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Villa Borghese, University of Pennsylvania, Cambridge University, and the Kimbell Art Museum, in collaboration with the archaeological site of El Peru-Waka, Guatemala, The Harvard Art Museums, and the Conseil Général de France. Mr. Street’s current research is dedicated to the practical uses of three-dimensional imaging in the museum and cultural heritage contexts. His work particularly focuses on the application of three-dimensional imaging as a basis for Finite Element Analysis, Geometric Deviation Studies, and virtual reconstructions. His “one of a kind” facsimiles are represented in various museums and private collections.


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