Developing Open-Source Software for Art Conservators

Abstract  Art conservators now have access to a wide variety of digital imaging techniques to assist in examining and documenting physical works of art. Commonly used techniques include hyperspectral imaging, 3D scanning and medical CT imaging. However, most of the digital image data requires specialized software to view. The software is often associated with a particular type of acquisition device, and professional knowledge and experience is needed for each type of data. In addition, these software packages are often focused on particular applications (such as medicine or remote sensing) and are not designed to allow the free exploitation of these expensively acquired digital data. In this paper, we address two practical barriers in using the high-tech digital data in art conservation. First, there is the barrier of dealing with a wide variety of interfaces specialized for applications outside of art conservation. We provide an open-source software tool with a single intuitive user interface that can handle various types of 2/3D image data consistent with the needs of art conservation. Second, there is the barrier that previous software has been focused on a single data type. The software presented here is designed and structured to integrate various types of digital imaging data, including as yet unspecified data types, in an integrated environment. This provides conservators the free navigation of various imaging information and allows them to integrate the different types of imaging observations.