Conservation, Tapestries

17 May 2016

Picture perfect: Insights in to our past

This week, our Digital Documentation team will be at Stirling Castle to laser scan the Mystic Hunt of the Unicorn tapestry. The tapestry is the focus of a conservation research project being led by the University of Glasgow.

The project aims to record how much strain the tapestry is under and how this changes over time. A camera installed opposite the tapestry is set to take hourly high-resolution photographs. These images can then be fed through a software program to turn them into a ‘strain map’, highlighting areas where deformation has taken place.

By understanding how tapestries move and deform over time, it is hoped that museums and conservators will be able to develop more informed conservation treatments.

Hunt of the Unicorn tapestry

The Digital Documentation team will record the tapestry using three different techniques.

Firstly they will laser scan the tapestry using a high resolution terrestrial laser scanner. This will accurately create a 3D point cloud for the entire tapestry.

Secondly they will use a much higher resolution close-range laser scan system to capture data for a small area of the tapestry which might be under particular stress or strain.

Thirdly, the team will use a Gigapan photographic system to capture photographs which can be stitched together to create one ultra-high resolution gigapixel image of the tapestry.

This information will be shared with the University of Glasgow to aid their research project and specifically to investigate whether the images provide a useful information source for finite element modelling to predict strain and to inform conservation.

Find out more about this project

Lynsey Haworth, HES Regional Collections Manager (Central)