Museum Spotlight: Royal Museum for Central Africa

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Our Cultural institutions Page highlights our ongoing support of museums and cultural institutions with free accounts and access to tools. In Museum Spotlight, we’ll explore museums and cultural institutions who are using 3D technology to bring new life to their collections. Today’s blog post features the Royal Museum for Central Africa, the Belgian museum devoted to Africa.

The Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) is known for being one of the world’s most beautiful and impressive museums devoted to Africa. Since its founding in 1898, its task has been to preserve and manage collections, carry out scientific research, and disseminate knowledge to a wide audience through its scientific, educational, and museological activities.

The RMCA plays an active role in the sustainable development of Africa, and aspires to be a centre for collaboration and reflection on today’s Africa and the challenges it faces.

Our collections, noted for their diversity, are of enormous scientific value and are unique in many ways.

A large part of the collections are already digitized in 2D, but in 2012 RMCA joined a federal project for 3D digitisation involving several institutions. First with the Agora 3D project and now with DIGIT-03.

The first collection to be digitised in 3D was the mollusc collection: A 2D view is limited and doesn’t allow you to display all the characters related to the taxonomic morphometric of the molluscs. However, digitisation in 3D is time consuming, therefore digitising the complete collections in 3D would take decades or need an army of workers. As a priority we started with holotype (and paratype) specimens, because these are the specimens used as the basis for describing species which makes them the most important specimens in the collections. Therefore the most important specimens to have in 3D. Not only is the generation of 3D models important in collection management, it could also replace the need to ship or send very fragile specimens for research in all kinds of disciplines.

In the future, RMCA plans to enlarge its digitisation program to other collections.

Thanks for sharing, Aurore Mathys!

About the author

Nicolas Guinebretière

Cultural heritage enthusiast

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