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Scots jet out to digitally document Mount Rushmore in 3D

6 May 2010

Mount RushmoreA team of heritage conservators and digital design experts from Historic Scotland and the Digital Design Studio at the Glasgow School of Art is leaving Scotland on Friday, 7th May for the Black Hills of South Dakota to digitally record the international heritage landmark, Mount Rushmore.

The project, expected to last two weeks, is the first international site the team will scan with 3D laser scanners as part of the Scottish 10 - an ambitious five-year project to use cutting edge technology to create exceptionally accurate digital models of Scotland’s five UNESCO designated World Heritage Sites and five international sites.

Minister for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: “I wish the team the very best of luck in this project. This is a fantastic opportunity for two Scottish organisations to combine expertise and showcase them on a world stage.

“The Scottish 10 provides Historic Scotland and Glasgow School of Art with a platform to show Scottish innovation in digital technology for the historic environment like no other project before, and provides us with 3D imagery of these special sites for preservation, conservation, research and development, tourism, education and interpretation purposes.

Doug Pritchard, Head of Visualisation at the Glasgow School of Art, who will lead the team during the Mount Rushmore project, said:

“We are delighted to be working on such an internationally recognisable and emblematic site. Five specialists from Scotland will be on site to fully document the Mount Rushmore National Memorial – down to the millimetre – over a two-week period. The team will employ highly advanced laser scanning technology to provide the US National Parks Service with the extremely accurate, comprehensive 3-D survey of the Memorial.

The derived 3-D data will then be used to assess the physical condition of the Memorial as well as provide the foundation for future conservation, site management and archeological understanding. The data will also be used to develop photorealistic 3-D animations to aid in public interpretation and education.”

The Scottish team will be working with conservation and climbing experts from the Mount Rushmore National Memorial as well as the California-based CyArk Foundation – with the mission of  "preserving World Heritage Sites through collecting, archiving and providing open access to data created by laser scanning, digital modeling, and other state-of-the-art technologies” and local South Dakota parters.

The Scottish 10 project was announced in July 2009. The five sites in Scotland are Unesco World Heritage Sites and include The Heart of Neolithic Orkney; The Antonine Wall; the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh; St Kilda and New Lanark. New Lanark has just been finished with 3D images of the laser scan data are available.

The team is scheduled to start on site in Orkney in August 2010. The other remaining four overseas sites have still be to selected and will fulfil Scottish Government International objectives in Japan, India and China, with a fifth site to be selected.


Please note that an Historic Scotland film and stills photographer will be with the team and will be able to issue both from site. Contact Lisa Nicholson if you have any specific requirements as there is no media access to the site out with that of the main public area.

Notes for Editors

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is one of the United Kingdom’s (UK) most successful higher education institutions specialising in architecture, design and fine art.  It has an established reputation world wide for high quality education and search that is demonstrated by the outstanding successes of its students and graduates and the professional standing of its staff.  It is home to an international community of 1700 undergraduate and postgraduate students studying in the schools of Architecture, Design and Fine Art, or at the Digital Design Studio. For further information:
  • CyArk is a non-profit entity whose mission is to digitally preserve cultural heritage sites through collecting, archiving and providing open access to data created by laser scanning, digital modeling, and other state-of-the-art technologies. For more information visit

For further information

Lisa Nicholson
Communications and Media Manager
Communications and Media
0131 668 8852 or 07500 065 438