Digital Scanning a Success at Mount Rushmore

A colorful image of Mount Rushmore created using digital scan data.
A colorful image of Mount Rushmore created using digital scan data.

Kacyra Family Foundation

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News Release Date: May 26, 2010

Contact: Navnit Singh, 605-574-3115

(Keystone, SD) Mount Rushmore National Memorial successfully completed the digital laser scanning of the park’s cultural resources on Tuesday. The state of the art digital scanning project began on Monday, May 11 and took 15 days to complete. Snow, fog, and thunderstorms over the two weeks only extended the project for two days over the expected two week schedule. The laser scanning team was able to capture all needed data including data scans of the sculpture, Hall of Records, the historic Sculptor’s Studio, and all visitor facilities.

The National Park Service worked closely with the Kacyra Family Foundation, Historic Scotland, the Glasgow School of Art, Wyss and Associates, and Respec Engineering, Inc. to capture the digital data. Each organization played an integral role in the success of the scanning. The team included digital preservation specialists from Historic Scotland, local survey specialists, and the Mount Rushmore technical ropes team. The international team came together to overcome the many challenges in scanning the sixty feet tall sculpture. Creative solutions, including a custom made tripod for scanning the sculpture, were developed to capture the intricate details of the mountain.

The two weeks of digital scanning captured an immense amount of data that will be processed in the coming months. Data processing takes 10-12 months and entails the merging of all the separate scanning locations, matching up data points, confirming the accuracy of the data, and overlaying photo texturing for a real life effect.

Once data processing is complete, the memorial will begin developing park programming using the laser scanning data. Application of the data can include virtual tours, 3-D models, digital animations, and interactive programs that can give visitors a bird’s eye view of the sculpture. The digital scanning team will continue to work together in the coming months and years to promote the digital preservation and programming for the memorial.

Last updated: May 15, 2017

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