Myriam van WALSUM | Pierre-Yves GAGNIER | Herbert D. G. MASCHNER | Jeffrey P. Du VERNAY | J. Bart MCLEOD | Aurelia LUREAU
(Global Digital Heritage, Schermerhorn, The Netherlands)

Keywords: natural history; anatomical reference collection; interdisciplinary best practices

Natural history collections are often overlooked as cultural heritage, but they have been part of our social environment for over 400 years: from cabinets of curiosities to the modern museum. Flora, fauna and geology were initially of interest mainly to elite hobbyists and scientists, but today have become a general social interest and these objects can now be considered as cultural heritage.
Both cultural heritage and natural history research are based on physical objects which are curated in research and museum collections. Increasingly there is a need for unlocking the collections of either of these fields, for which databases, 2D and 3D imagery are essential. This overlap provides an excellent opportunity to share and develop best practices and solutions.
Over the course of 2016-2018 the team from Global Digital Heritage conducted 3D digitization projects at the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle (Paris, France). A high-resolution laser scanner was used in the vertebrate collections with the goal of making anatomical reference collections available to researchers and the public. TLS scanners and 360° imagery were used to document the entire exhibitions of the Galerie de paléontologie et d’anatomie comparée. This was undertaken in order to record the current exhibition layout with an eye on future restructuring and virtual visits, treating the historical gallery as heritage in itself. Photogrammetry was used experimentally on individual specimens and the content of the glass cabinets.
These data in turn are to be used in a suite of projects including remodeling the gallery for visitors and research efforts, documentation and presentation of rare or extinct species, the online development of scientific research opportunities, and basic scientific research. In this paper we describe the initial results of these digitization efforts and how they can be applied to cultural heritage.

Relevance for the conference: The creation of natural history collections is an aspect of cultural heritage, and there is a strong overlap of goals and methods in digitizing collections between cultural heritage and natural history.
Relevance for the session: The Global Digital Heritage team undertook digitization work at Muséum national d’histoire naturelle with the goal of collecting open data for public science and historical heritage.
Innovation: We stress the need to work together with natural history professionals because of the overlap between collections and research methodology, through which we seek to improve the best practices of both fields.
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