Colour Holography: The Ultimate Imaging Technique for Museums

Prof. Hans Bjelkhagen
Centre for Modern Optics at NEWI/OpTIC, Wales, UK
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An overview of the colour holographic recording technique is presented. Colour holography is the most accurate imaging technology known to science. It is now possible to produce 3D holographic images for display that are almost indistinguishable from the original object or scene. Colour holography offers an alternative route for the display, dissemination, study and investigation of rare or fragile or culturally sensitive artifacts. It also offers a route to novel display techniques and enables museum objects too fragile for normal display to be shown. An advantage is that rare, precious or high value artifacts can be displayed without any concern about theft or damage thus reducing costs for insurance, shipping, etc. Until recently display holography was usually associated with monochrome 3D imaging. After the appearance of colour holography it has become possible to record holographic images of 2D objects, such as oil paintings. A holographic contact recording of a painting reproduces the painting with all its surface texture details preserved, such as brush strokes, the painter’s signature, etc. Possessing an exact copy of the painting could be important for insurance and restoration purposes, in case of theft or damage. The paper also discusses the rendition of colour in a hologram. The major advantages of holographic reproduction are discussed together with its limitations.