Holography & Associated Laser Techniques in the world of Museum Artifacts

Prof. John M Webster
University of Aberdeen, Scotland
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Holography and associated laser based recording techniques have applications in museum situations. The USSR initially lead in this field; namely by the “father” of this type of holography, Professor Uri Denisyuk, who developed the technology to a point where it was used for travelling holographic exhibitions of historic Russian artefacts.

Probably one of the many milestones in the progress of holography for museum (among other) applications was the engineering of the pulsed ruby laser during the early 80’s. It attained a level where it could be reliably used for holography on unstable subjects such as living creatures both in the laboratory and under difficult field conditions; more latterly this system has been succeeded by the ND Yagx2 systems. Examples of making holographic recordings under extremely difficult field conditions will be discussed and illustrated.

The paper discusses the application of laser recording, for three–dimensional display of ancient artefacts and medical dissections, for museum exhibition in hospitals. The paper also discuses non–destructive testing techniques for the detection of subsurface damage on such items such as paintings where debonding between painted surfaces and their supporting background may have occurred. A further associated technique is also discussed which detects defects in ancient metal structures. This latter technique was used on the Marco Aurelio equestrian bronze, located in Rome.