Digital Curation of the 3D Chiurazzi historical statuary collection at the Ringling Museum (Sarasota, FL)

Madeleine Kraft (Spring 2022)

3D capturing

The University of South Florida’s Institute for Digital Exploration (USF IDEx) began a project in conjunction with the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in the Fall of 2020 to digitize a collection of bronze sculptures created by the Fonderia Chiurazzi. The foundry, established in 1960 by Gennaro Chiurazzi, gained fame from their extensive mould collection, which features a number of renowned Classical sculptures such as the Laocoon and the Capitoline Wolf. The quality and craftsmanship of the replicas casted from this mould collection have earned them a place in many museums internationally both as incredible replicas of infamous works of art and as works of art in themselves. In digitizing the highlight of this collection. USF IDEx utilized freehand digital photogrammetry to capture the data with some additional maneuvering required for sculptures placed against the walls or in the corners at the Ringling Museum.

3D Data processing

The Chiurazzi sculptures at the Ringling were processed in two softwares. Two of the sculptures were processed in Agisoft Metashape 1.6.2 with the remaining 22 processed in RealityCapture 1.0.3. RealityCapture was chosen, after many trial runs, as the best outcome in terms of both mesh and texture due to the scale and material of the objects. Post-processing was required for many models and was performed in Blender 2.90, 2.91 or 2.92. For each model, a plane was added underneath the statue. Some sculptures, especially those placed up against the wall at the Ringling Museum, required some additional mesh and texture editing to ensure they are faithful representation.

Metadata curation

The metadata collected for the Fonderia Chiurazzi sculptures at the Ringling came from several sources. Much of the information regarding the acquisition of the sculptures by John Ringling was provided by the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art directly or was acquired from the Ringling’s e-Museum. Business documents, such as Form 8-K filings, were used as sources regarding information about the Fonderia Chiurazzi’s foundation, exchange of business, mould collection and the provenance of the sculptures. For information regarding the original objects the foundry created casts from, the website of the current holding institution, often the Vatican Museum or the National Naples Archaeological Museum, was referenced. Finally, regarding the original sculptures, Carol Mattusch and Henry Lie’s book The Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum: Life and Afterlife of a Sculpture Collection provided a great deal of information concerning the origin of many of the sculptures as well as their modern presence, occasionally referencing the Fonderia Chiurazzi’s mould collection directly.

Curation of the digital collection

For each model, an extensive metadata and paradata database entry was created to record all relevant information including imaging techniques, rendering softwares, materials and dimensions of each sculpture and the provenance of the object. This information can be found in several locations where the models have been disseminated. Firstly, the models have been published on the USF IDEx Sketchfab page where metadata and paradata can be found in the description. Furthermore, these models can also be found in a virtual collection on the USF IDEx website. In this collection, the objects are presented with a 2D thumbnail that contains links to a PDF output of the database entry and the link to the 3D model on Sketchfab so that the contextual information about the sculpture as well as the process of digitizing are closely connected and readily available