Visualising the Archive: Our Material Gone Digital!

Happy new year! To kick off our 2020 blog posts, we thought we’d start by promoting a student project which shows off our collections in a whole new light…

As many of you may know, GSA Archives have worked on many innovative projects with the School’s department of Simulation and Visualisation (SimVis). Artist Romy Galloway recently completed her Masters in International Heritage Visualisation with SimVis. Her “Visualising the Archive” project focused on how practices of digitisation may extend access to archival objects, specifically two pieces from our collection. The project looked in particular at ways to encourage the objects’ use and study within creative practices and research.

The artefacts chosen to create digital surrogates from were a Mackintosh chair and a 19th Century plaster bust. The interactive application that Romy created seeks to facilitate the influential potential of both the original and digital artefacts.

Users can view both the chair and the bust in two different viewing structures, providing two different access points. One provides an exercise in object analysis, leading the viewer into their own reading of the object, while the other provides further exploration and information on the object’s history, biography and production contexts. Viewers may use these reproductions in any way they see fit: as a starting point for further research, as drawing subjects, or as creative material itself by downloading the 3D scan data for personal use.

The project seeks to address critiques of common curatorial uses of digital heritage objects. By highlighting the artefacts on display as products of digital production processes, it seeks to reinforce their credibility, not as fully encompassing stand-ins for the originals, but as material objects in their own right with unique communicative possibilities, providing news ways of seeing the artefacts and new ways to engage in creative response.

Image shows digital object as a point cloud. The circles indicate several hidden points of information for the user to find when interacting with the object.

If you would like to learn more about the resource created contact To find out more about the original artefacts and GSA’s Archives and Collections in general, or to arrange a visit, please email