New Innovations for Historic Places

Trish Smith, Curator of Historic Architectural Resources, Attends Conference on 3D Visualization Technology

 

Drayton Hall’s curator of historic architectural resources, Trish Smith, traveled to Paris for a conference on 3D visualization technology.

Drayton Hall’s curator of historic architectural resources, Trish Smith, traveled to Paris for a conference on 3D visualization technology.

Pompeii, Versailles, Karnak, the Roman Forum. Would you believe that all of these places share an exciting connection with Drayton Hall? In April, Drayton Hall’s curator of historic architectural resources, Trish Smith, traveled to Paris for a conference that brought cultural heritage professionals from around the world to share new innovations in 3D visualization technology. In the past year, Drayton Hall has joined the ranks of these world-class sites by using technology to bring history to life with stunning 3D restorations and interactive virtual environments.

Our commitment to preserving the house in its current state precludes us from undertaking restoration projects or displaying our acclaimed collections in the unconditioned space, but this technology enables us to do both—digitally. Among the things you’ll see in the 3D models are the finest example of furniture to survive from Colonial America and a piece of case furniture that no longer exists but was depicted in an 1840s sketch. We’ve used 3D technology to transform this piece from a 170-year-old pencil sketch into a three dimensional image of the cabinet filled with ceramics from our collection. These computer-generated pieces are placed in a 3D model of the house which is being digitally restored to its original condition with the help of discoveries made over forty years of research at Drayton Hall.

Trish Smith's latest work includes a 3D rendering of Drayton Hall's Withdrawing Room

Trish Smith’s latest work includes a 3D rendering of Drayton Hall’s Withdrawing Room with a piece of case furniture.

Among the things you’ll see in the 3D models are, “the finest example of furniture to survive from Colonial America,” and a piece of case furniture that no longer exists but was depicted in an 1840s sketch. We’ve used 3D technology to transform this piece from a 170-year-old pencil sketch into a three dimensional image of the cabinet filled with ceramics from our collection.

Among the things you’ll see in the 3D models are the finest example of furniture to survive from Colonial America and a piece of case furniture that no longer exists but was depicted in an 1840s sketch. We’ve used 3D technology to transform this piece from a 170-year-old pencil sketch into a three dimensional image of the cabinet filled with ceramics from our collection.

For decades our means of sharing such discoveries with the public was limited by our preservation philosophy as well as our lack of museum space, but 3D visualization technology makes it possible to maintain the authenticity of the house in its present state while allowing visitors see the house fully restored and furnished once again. Encouraged by the early success of this project and a desire to understand the latest developments, Trish Smith traveled to Paris to learn from some of the most accomplished professionals working at the most famous historic sites in the world.

Hundreds of attendees from various cultural heritage disciplines attended the Paris conference hosted by CAA, an international organization that convenes annually to foster discussion about computer science and mathematical applications in archaeology and architectural history. This was the first year that a representative from Drayton Hall was in attendance, and the opportunity to learn and share ideas with professionals from around the world was tremendous.  One presenter discussed a project that uses heat signatures to piece together broken fragments of the terracotta warriors and horses in China. Another team shared their innovative method of capturing 360 degree views of all of the columns at the Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor, Egypt; and several sessions ended with lively discussions about historic sites that are successfully creating video games and virtual demonstrations to engage students online.

WR-Desk and Bookcase-with description Resized

The opportunity to take part in such a conference comes at a pivotal time as news of Drayton Hall’s 3D renderings spreads and we further our commitment to embracing this technology. Recently, Drayton Hall was awarded an innovation grant by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the purchase of 3D scanning equipment that will make it possible to capture architectural elements, furniture, and artifacts in greater detail. With our new 3D scanning capabilities and an expanded network of colleagues to help us navigate this digital frontier, we will look back on the 2014 CAA Conference in Paris as the beginning of a new wave of exciting digital offerings from Drayton Hall.

Colonial Williamsburg Object: Drayton Desk and Bookcase

Gift of Charles H. Drayton and Martha Mood.

The Drayton Hall desk and bookcase was recently conserved at Colonial Williamsburg. Gift of Charles H. Drayton and Martha Mood.

This rare, English-made desk and bookcase (c. 1745) is the most significant piece of furniture in Drayton Hall’s collection. Described by Ronald L. Hurst, Vice President, Collections, Conservation, and Museums at Colonial Williamsburg, as “the finest example of furniture to survive from Colonial America,” this exquisite piece is a testament to John Drayton’s wealth and sophistication, and his position as one of colonial America’s most significant merchant planters. This elaborate example of mid 18th-century British case furniture may have been located within Drayton Hall’s withdrawing room. Completed with 13 secret compartments, gilt rococo, brasses, and delicate wood and tortoise shell inlays, this object is one of the finest examples of furniture to survive from colonial America.

Shielded behind the paneled mirror and fall-front of Drayton Hall’s desk and bookcase is an architecturally-inspired interior fabricated with exotic woods from around the globe, tortoise-shell inlay, and gilt brass hardware.  A series of 28 delicate drawers, a locking cabinet at the center of the bookcase, and a prospect below, form a balanced appearance and conceal 13 secret compartments.

Shielded behind the paneled mirror and fall-front of Drayton Hall’s desk and bookcase is an architecturally-inspired interior fabricated with exotic woods from around the globe, tortoise-shell inlay, and gilt brass hardware. A series of 28 delicate drawers, a locking cabinet at the center of the bookcase, and a prospect below, form a balanced appearance and conceal 13 secret compartments.

Check out the desk and bookcase and 26 other pieces from Drayton Hall at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s exhibit A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South. 

Colonial Williamsburg Object: Drayton Side Chair

Drayton Side Chair, British, c.1750. Post-conservation photograph by Craig McDougal. Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Gift of Mr. Charles H. Drayton, III.

One of two significant pieces of British furniture placed on loan to Colonial Williamsburg for the new exhibit A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South (officially opening this Friday, February 14) is a side chair contemporary to Drayton Hall’s construction (c.1738-1750). Carved from mahogany and deal and marked with the number 1, this chair is one of four known survivors from an original set of twelve numbered chairs imported from Britain for use in the great hall. Conservation of the wooden chair frame began with the careful cleaning of dirt and debris. This was followed by the removal of 20th century upholstery from the existing slip seat frame in an attempt to locate evidence of the original seat fabric. Through this process, it was determined that the slip seat frame was a 20th-century replacement, and an example of period silk upholstery was selected from 18th-century patterns to finish the chair.

Check out the Drayton side chair and 26 other pieces from Drayton Hall at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s exhibit A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South. 

Drayton Hall Furniture Featured in The Post and Courier

Check out today’s edition of The Post and Courier for a feature on Drayton Hall’s furniture collection and an interview with Carter Hudgins, director of preservation and education. There are 26 objects from Drayton Hall that will be on display at Colonial Williamsburg starting February 15 in an exhibit titled “A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South.”