Royal Exhibition Building Digitally Captured For The Future

Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this building in Melbourne, Australia underwent 3-D laser and photogrammetry to inform ongoing conservation work.

Completed in 1880 to mark Melbourne’s first international exhibition, the Royal Exhibition Building is one of the world’s oldest remaining exhibition pavilions. It was the site of Australia’s first Federal parliament in 1901, hosted events for the 1956 Summer Olympics, and was the first site to fly the new Australian National Flag following a six-day, national flag design competition in 1901. In 2004, the Royal Exhibition Building and the surrounding Carlton Gardens became the first building in Australia granted listing as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

world heritage sites
Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, Australia

Earlier this month, CyArk, a nonprofit organization that digitally records, archives and helps preserve world heritage sites, and Iron Mountain Incorporated, provider of storage and information management services, completed a preservation project to digitally capture and preserve the Royal Exhibition Building. The project, the first joint endeavor in Australia, will ensure that this cultural, historical and political landmark will live on digitally archived and available for generations to come as part of CyArk and Iron Mountain’s commitment to preserving world heritage sites. This will assist with ongoing conservation work of the Royal Exhibition Building and ensuring it can continue to be used as an exhibition venue.

Working with Museums Victoria, Australia’s largest public museum organization, the CyArk team was able to utilize its digital capture process to scan the building, dome, and the paintings inside using 3-D laser and photogrammetry. Once captured, the scans are then rendered by CyArk’s technology team into 3-D imagery that provides high resolution, photo-accurate and measurable drawings of the space to help inform ongoing conservation work. Additionally, the 3-D data will allow the Museums Victoria team to develop virtual and augmented reality applications to enhance visitor experience and encourage public engagement on-site and online. Copies of the of those scans will also preserved on data backup tapes and stored in Iron Mountain’s secure underground storage location in Pennsylvania.

“The Royal Exhibition Building is one of the last national exhibition sites of its kind and an important landmark for the people of Australia,” said John Ristevksi, CEO, CyArk. “It carries incredible cultural, historical, and political significance for the country, both as a symbol of its emergence into international prominence and a monument to the age of exhibition at the beginning of the 20th century. With the completion of this project, we’re able to ensure that significance and legacy will live on for future generations.”

Michelle Stevenson, senior curator of the Royal Exhibition Building, Museums Victoria, said, “Throughout its history the Royal Exhibition Building has always been at the forefront of innovation and celebrating new technology. So it’s only fitting that we’re once again showcasing the site to the world via CyArk and Iron Mountain’s Living Legacy project. We are thrilled that this project will help enhance access to the building for those unable to visit and excited by the opportunities it presents for new methods of engagement with Melbourne’s World Heritage site.”

Iron Mountain is the sole corporate sponsor of the project through its Living Legacy Initiative, which provides funding and in-kind data storage and protection services to preservation organizations like CyArk. Since 2012, Iron Mountain has supported CyArk’s mission to preserve 500 world heritage sites in five years. To date, CyArk has digitally preserved more than 200 sites on all seven continents, including recent projects in Chile (Easter Island/Rapa Nui in 2017), Canada (Toronto’s Fort York, 2017), Taiwan (Lukang Longshan Temple, 2016), Berlin (Brandenburg Gate, 2015), and Washington, DC (Washington Monument, 2014).

“Our support of CyArk and the digital conservation of the Royal Exhibition Building helps us preserve our community treasures, champion our business capabilities and connect with employees in a profound way,” said Greg Lever, country manager for Iron Mountain Australia. “Every day we serve as the trusted guardian for our customer’s most critical information, protecting and preserving what matters most for them. Our Living Legacy Initiative enables Iron Mountain to extend this same expertise to community partners all over the world, ensuring that our shared heritage remains protected for generations to come.”