Cultural heritage objects like paintings and manuscripts are a rich source of information about human history and a lot has been discovered through their study. A great collection of such artifacts is scattered around the globe in various libraries and research institutions. Digital images of the objects make them accessible to a greater audience, but images offer only a limited experience compared to observing the real thing. Public access to institutions got further limited during pandemic times, further increasing importance of techniques that enable rich access to such objects remotely. In addition, due to the physical nature of these often old and typically rare or unique objects, humanity is at risk of losing their history through decay. Therefore, techniques to support digital preservation of important cultural heritage objects is also of great importance. In this project we propose an end-to-end approach for creating a digital collection of such objects. Advancing to a 3D from a 2D paradigm, this thesis describes our efforts in developing techniques to capture, model, visualize and interact with the near planar cultural heritage objects. Our techniques are built using off the shelf components that are easily available so that it is reproducible and can be disseminated to a larger audience. The contributions of this thesis are 1) A novel approach towards estimating the complete appearance of surfaces using a portable projector-camera system made of standard consumer-grade components 2) A visualization platform implemented in HTML and JavaScript that can be accessed using standard web browsers on consumer-grade mobile devices through URLs without downloading or installing any software 3) An application to capture and model the user `s illumination environment in real-time and use it to light the virtual objects, making the objects appear to be situated in the real-world using the tangible display systems; and 4) Leveraging tangible display system to study the perceptual system that supports the visual perception of surface properties through manipulation. We see great potential use of our work to enable widespread, realistic, interactive access to digital collections.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Cultural property--Digitization; Digital preservation; Three-dimensional display systems; Multispectral imaging

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Imaging Science (Ph.D.)

Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


James A. Ferwerda

Advisor/Committee Member

Joe Geigel

Advisor/Committee Member

David Messinger


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes