Covert scan of museum's Nefertiti bust appears to be hoax


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It’s a kinect scanner not a kinekt.




Why would the museum make public so much data you can create your own antiquities? Do they release super high resolution scans of their paintings? I guess they might, but there’s still something to be said for going to the museum.


They didn’t make it public, the Trigonart scan wasn’t release to the public (…except through this “kinect scan”…)
It looks like the fake kinect scan was cover for them getting their hands on that Trigonart scan and releasing it


Yes I got that, but the article seems to be complaining about it.


Comparing renders of the two scans isn’t going to tell anyone anything, surely? They’re of the same object so of course they’re going to look alike. More helpful might be to look at the base of the models: if the museum’s scan shows something other than the plinth the bust is presently mounted on, for instance, and the artists’ scan shows the same thing, that would support the argument that they are the same file.

Otherwise, I imagine that you’d have to get into the detail of the models, showing that the particular arrangement of segments for a random bit of paint is exactly the same. Are there any renders of close-ups showing the layers of paint for example that can be compared?


I wonder if 3D scans will have “trap dimples” in the same way maps have trap streets, or if there are any examples of ones that already do.


Museums are public institutions, not private corporations. They hold all the stuff so that the public can have access to it, that’s their purpose. If a museum scans something or even takes pictures of it, the public should have reasonable access to that data. If the museum deems, for whatever ineffable reason, that the public has no right to that data then they shouldn’t create that data in the first place.


schadenfreudegasm… on part of the two artists whose work turned out to be 99% promotion of an idea, complete with lump-in-your-throat righteous indignation, and only 1% technical execution.

I do intrinsically favour the sort of collaborative practice they’ve followed here, but this shit storm also exposes the inherent flaws in creative processes where one person does the work while another steps forward to take the praise. I wouldn’t rule out that the ‘anonymous’ person intentionally left a little shit filled easter egg inside the process just as a fuck you to his/her former team mates.


I know that’s true of the Smithsonian, but are you sure they’re always owned by the public? I seem to recall they were the exception, not the rule.


If you’ve used a Kinect and seen the raw data there’s no chance in hell it looks as good as that rendering does. It’s great for big things, here’s the nose, that’s the eye, but it would never pick up the detail in that head wrap as well, especially if done surreptitiously like they claim.


I know that it is a bit unfair, but phrases that have been shortened with complete and utter disregard of the original language can be like nails on a chalkboard.

(Not to mention that Neues Museum is the name of the building, not an institution)


Museums aren’t owned by the public by definition, but the museum in question is run by a foundation overseen by the federal government and the states.


To properly replicate a museum piece, you need to use the same materials, and the same techniques. The bust of Nefertiti was CT scanned in part to figure out how it was made (looking at the interior), not just to have a 3D map of the surface. And if you read that paper, you’ll find quite a bit of insight into that question-- which would not be possible with a superficial replica.


I found a great video showing the kind of detail the Kinect can go for. And this is in a controlled environment with no restrictions:

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazingly inexpensive scanner with great results, but there’s no way it would get into that detail under someone’s coat.


Fair enough. I was thinking of public museums rather than private ones, and I assumed that Neues Museum was public, since it claims the Nefertiti bust belongs to Germany rather than Neues Museum GmbH (or whatever the appropriate German initialism would be).


It is very interesting that in the first picture in the article, the ‘Heist scan’ has lower detail, but in the second picture, the ‘Heist scan’ has higher detail. Are we completely sure that both pictures are accurately labeled?


It’s not strictly their purpose to allow the public unfettered access to their collections. Each Museum will have some set of guidelines laid out by its board of trustees. These will define who gets access and under what conditions. Typically, legitimate researchers will have the most access, but even they will be bound by sets of rules.
Museums are really there to store their collections, under the best possible conditions, study them and to disseminate the results of that research. The fact that the public can visit the publically accessible works could be argued to be a by-product of the whole process.
With increasing financial pressures on Museums, you will find and see increasing numbers relying on using their digitised assets to generate income - for example by reproducing and selling 3D models.
So the implication that a Museum is hoarding digital models holds about as much water as saying that the Museum is “hoarding” its physical objects.


It’s arguable that the research uses, etc, are the by-product of having publicly accessible works. Whichever, the public access is very much a part of what modern public museums are, as is the research, neither of which on the face of it seem to be compatible with the Neues Museum making a hi-res scan and treating it as confidential data. It seems to be a part of a commercial exercise, an ill-defined one at that, which it is arguable that the Neues Museum is not best placed to pioneer, seeing as it is a public institution.

A museum has some limits on public access to physical objects, because of their fragility and sometimes portability; and they have some limits, presumably, on access to research data while the research is in progress, because publication order is important to scientists and other reasons. But in the latter case, the end result is the publication of data. And in the former, again, the aim is for as many of the public to see the exhibit as possible for as long as possible. Neither of these pertain to a digital scan.

If I have a copy of the Neues Museum scan, then they still have theirs; their copy is neither existentially threatened by my having a copy nor are they unable to make their copy available to researchers. Indeed, the more people have a copy, the less danger there is that it will be lost, and the more researchers — professional or amateur — will be able to access it. The only argument against allowing the public access to the data is a strictly commercial one, which the museum has a weak to non-existant case for making a priority over public access.