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The Lives of Things

Using new technologies to reconstruct contexts and meanings of places, spaces, and objects

Project Lead(s): Mark J. V. Olson, Caroline Bruzelius


The goal of the Lives of Things project is to create new interactive displays and hybrid digital/physical exhibition platforms that reconstruct the location, color, and meaning of works of art in the collections of the Nasher Museum of Art. A wide range of interests and interdisciplinary expertise are sought for this project, from Art History and Visual and Media Studies to Computer Science and Engineering. Students will work in teams in close collaboration with professors and graduate students or post-docs, learning an array of techniques and technologies that include the following: 3D modeling and acquisition using laser scanning and photogrammetry, geospatial mapping, augmented reality, gaming platforms, projection mapping, spatial analysis, data visualization, web or app design, writing, graphic design, database design and management, computer programming, interactive sensors, and gesture recognition interfaces such as Kinect and Leap Motion. The first of these exhibitions was Medieval Color Comes to Light, an app that enabled visitors to digitally recolor four pieces of an important ensemble of Romanesque figural sculpture in the Nasher Museum of Art’s collection in order to see for themselves how the statues might have originally appeared.

A portion of the Alife Arch digitally annotated to show a human figure's shape in green. Image Credit: Julia Liu

Alife Arch App

This wonderful arch, housed at the Nasher Museum of Art, consists of intertwined men and animals combined in a frightening vision of suffering in Hell or Purgatory. The arch is from the Cathedral of Alife, an ancient Roman city near…

Image showing photogrammetric phases of creating a digital model. The object is a 15th-century Incan pacha in the Nasher Museum of Art’s permanent collection. Image Credit: Edward Triplett

Art of the Americas Interactive

This project is a partnership with the Nasher Museum to re-imagine the exhibition of the museum’s collection of ancient American Art, one of the best university art museum collections of work by Maya, Aztec, and Inca cultures. For over 25…

Screen capture from the Medieval Color Comes to Life mobile app. Image Credit: Mark Olson

Medieval Color Comes to Light

The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University holds four pieces of an important ensemble of Romanesque figural sculpture. These four apostles, along with two others at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, another at the Smith…

Operating Archives

Operating Archives

The Operating Archives project emerges out of a concern with the preservation of the “performativity” of objects in the digital archive. While digital archives afford access to historical texts, images, and objects to be read and viewed, often in a…

Banner Image: Screen capture from Medieval Color Comes to Light. Image credit: Mark J. V. Olson

Past Collaborators

Guillermo Sapiro
Mariano Tepper