For the Museum Viewer


Decoding Artifacts: Historical Context and the Process of Stone Carving in a Virtual Environment

NDVmodelstillDecoding Artifacts is a project that aims to enhance the overall learning environment and gallery experience of museum visitors by offering digital visualizations and educational content on a fragment of medieval sculpture, the Head of a Virtue from Notre-Dame in Paris in the Nasher’s collection. An important segment of this project is a presentation on the process of stone carving. The use of digital technologies and virtual platforms within the museum gallery offers a way to learn about new and important topics that are not typically available in traditional exhibits. With medieval sculpture in particular, most museum labels emphasize the final product itself, the subject matter, and usually its origin in the Middle Ages. While that information is significant to understanding the artwork, what about how it was made? The tools and techniques used to make it? Images that display its original context? That is a type of information that simply cannot fit on a small museum label. However, by incorporating visualizations and digital apps into the gallery experience, visitors can visualize and create their own interactive dialog of new questions and information all while engaging with the physical object.

Stone carving is an ancient craft, revived during the Middle Ages, and still in use today by many artists and sculptors. The Decoding Artifacts project is researching medieval sculpture in new ways by studying stone carving tools and marks, the relationship of sound to the sculptor’s technique, and the importance of drawings and their connections to geometry. In addition, the project’s team is exploring ways to use digital tools and applications for public outreach and education within the Nasher Museum of Art. This website and augmented reality museum app presents 3D models, educational videos, and images as instruments of learning about stone carving and the artifact’s history. It encourages visitors to interact with the museum objects while exploring the virtual information and visualizations.

Simon Verity at Duke


A Duke University team of students and professors joined with master stonecarver Simon Verity in January of 2015 in a 10 day endeavor to better understand the tools, techniques and overall process of stone carving. Verity has worked on many large sculpting projects over the years, including work for Elton John; he was also Director of carving on the West Portal of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York.   Verity uses only traditional tools in his work, including the production of a facsimile of the Virtue Head in the Nasher Museum of Art’s. The Wired! team documented Simon’s work and technique, and has produced educational videos about stone caving.