Ringling train chugs into digital world

November 14, 2018

SARASOTA, Fla. (November 14, 2018)- The century-old train car known to be the site of business transactions for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has long been too fragile for visitors to step inside. The Wisconsin has faced conservation issues due to the discontinuation of spare train parts. Through a project led by the University of South Florida, it will no longer be limited to glancing through a window.

During a presentation at the International Conference on Cultural Heritage and New Technologies in Vienna, Austria, Davide Tanasi, PhD, assistant professor of history, and Michael Celestin, PhD, senior research engineer, revealed 3D models of the train, including its luxurious interior, providing full digital access.

In order to make this happen, they used digital photogrammetry and terrestrial laser scanning to 3D print furniture elements and metal components of the train undercarriage, allowing for the creation of spare parts for future restoration efforts. They printed using metal, wood and porcelain, closely mimicking the train built in 1896. It's 79x14 ft and includes three states rooms, a kitchen, dining room, servants' quarters and bathrooms.

"The virtualization of the Wisconsin train car is the result of an innovative approach aimed to popularize through digital technology such crown jewel of Florida cultural heritage, currently partly accessible on site and basically digitally invisible for the remote public," said Tanasi.

"What we tried to ensure is that we are able to take real parts out of service so that perfect weight and appearance replicas can take their place," said Celestin. "In so doing, we are able to further preserve the fragile antique components while being able to "adjust the slider" of time's patina on an object--stopping at as little or much age-related damage as we want. This time-machine approach to preservation allows you to very easily create a model of how a part would look if brand new today, and also allow realistic, 3D printed replacement parts to sit alongside their time-aged counterparts."

The Wisconsin was John Ringling's personal train car that traveled the country, often accompanying the cast of his infamous circus come to be known as "The Greatest Show on Earth," which ceased performance in May 2017. It changed hands throughout the 20th century, eventually landing at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota in 2003. Just prior, it underwent significant restoration to uncover the original paint, gold plating, and beautiful stain glass windows.

Dr. Tanasi is founder of the Institute for Digital Exploration (IDEx) in the USF College of Arts and Sciences Department of History. IDEx also led a massive 3D scanning project of the 36,000 square-foot Ca'd'Zan, the one-time residence of John and Mable Ringling.

"The mission of IDEx to document, preserve, and protect cultural heritage aligns with that of The Ringling, which aims to collect, preserve, and exhibit art for the benefit of the public," said David Berry, assistant director of academic affairs at The Ringling. "The technology employed by IDEx will be used to help The Ringling make its collections more accessible to visitors, on site and online."

University of South Florida (USF Innovation)

Related Cultural Heritage Articles from Brightsurf:

A more resistant material against microorganisms is created to restore cultural heritage
The study was performed by a research team at the University Research Institute into Fine Chemistry and Nanochemistry at the University of Cordoba and Seville's Institute of Natural Resources and Agrobiology of the Spanish National Research Council

Monitoring and reporting framework to protect World Heritage Sites from invasive species
A team of international scientists have devised a new monitoring and reporting framework to help protect World Heritage Sites from almost 300 different invasive alien species globally including, rats (Rattus spp.), cats (Felis catus), lantana (Lantana camara) and Argentine ants (Linepithema humile).

How governments resist World Heritage 'in Danger' listings
Some national governments repeatedly resist the placement of 41 UNESCO World Heritage sites on the World Heritage in Danger list.

Mapping white clover heritage
Pedigree analysis will help breeders develop clover varieties with desired traits.

Almost half of World Heritage sites could lose their glaciers by 2100
Glaciers are set to disappear completely from almost half of World Heritage sites if business-as-usual emissions continue.

Medieval inks for heritage conservation
Researchers at the University of Cordoba and Nova University in Portugal have replicated five medieval inks using 15th and 16th century recipes.

World Heritage Sites threatened by rising sea levels
In the Mediterranean region, there are numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites in low-lying coastal areas.

Obstacles limiting the preservation of global heritage by UNESCO revealed
A researcher at Kanazawa University explained normative and institutional factors behind the increasing contentiousness of UNESCO's 'Memory of the World' program.

Crucial new data on the origin of the Dolmens of Antequera, a World Heritage Site
The results obtained indicate the Neolithic chronology of the cave (probably, at least, at the beginning of the 4th millennium BC) and its importance as a place of reference for the Neolithic (and possibly even older) population of the region, which would explain the anomalous orientation of the Menga dolmen.

Heritage science: Where the past looks to the future
Are crowd-sourced photos taken with mobile phones useful in collecting analytics for antiques?

Read More: Cultural Heritage News and Cultural Heritage Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.