November 2015 - The resurrection of the Utrecht Psalter

3D book presentation

Every detail of the library’s valuable books, manuscripts and maps can be virtually scrutinized by means of the Zeutschel ZED 10 3D Foyer. The 3D presentation system was used on the Utrecht Psalter for the first time. The religious manuscript dating from the 9th century has been inscribed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register for Documentary Heritage.

The Utrecht University Library was founded in 1584 and although relatively young still has a special collection of documents. Part of this “Special Collection” is the Utrecht Psalter, the pride of the university library. The religious manuscript was made between 820 and 830 during the times of the Carolingians in the Benedictine monastery of Hautvillers near the northern French city of Reims. The Psalter was eventually donated via England to the Utrecht University Library in 1716.

The great importance of the work results from the lavish illustrations of the text passages consisting of more than 150 ink drawings. Characteristic is the vibrancy of the images, a floating lightness of persons, in combination with an effective sign language.

Brought from the Treasury
“The Utrecht Psalter is a masterpiece of Carolingian book art. Until now, the manuscript has only been accessible to a small group of people and in the past was only exhibited to the public about every ten years for special occasions”, explains Dr. Martine Pronk, Head of the Department for Public Services – Information and Marketing at the Utrecht University Library and continues: “We not only see ourselves as a repository of books but also as a meeting place for the transfer of knowledge and the exchange of information. We want to make the cultural heritage we house tangible for everybody”.
The ZED 10 3D Foyer introduced last year, now makes this claim a reality. With the Zeutschel 3D presentation system, the viewer dons a pair of 3D glasses and stands about six feet away from a regular 3D TV. The virtual objects can be accessed per gesture control. Using simple hand movements visitors can rotate the book, turn pages using a pointer at their corners or zoom in on individual illustrations and the cover.

“The inclusion of the Utrecht Psalter in the 'UNESCO Memory of the World Register' in October 2015 was an opportunity for the library to break new ground in the way cultural treasures are presented”, says Dr. Martine Pronk.

Fresh revelations each time
The Utrecht Psalter has been presented in 3D twice so far. The first time was to celebrate the manuscript being listed as a World Documentary Heritage. And the second was during the regularly held alumni meeting of former students of the University of Utrecht.

The presentations took place in the Museum Catharijnecovent, an impressive medieval monastery that houses an extensive collection of Dutch cultural history dating from the Middle Ages to the modern era.

Marco Mastert, professor of medieval print culture at the University of Utrecht, demonstrated the special features of the Psalter ‘live’ at the ZED 10 3D Foyer. 25 to 30 interested participants were given a detailed insight into the dynamic and sketchy drawings, which constituted a major innovation at the time and set a trend. The style of the manuscripts is reflected later in several works in France and England.

“What makes the Utrecht Psalter so special is that you keep discovering new things when you examine it. Thanks to the ZED 10 3D Foyer, this is exactly what we are now able to offer a wider audience while also protecting the work at the same time”, something Dr. Martine Pronk wishes to stress.
The Zeutschel 3D presentation system will also be used on further works from the library collection in future. “We have so many cultural treasures that have remained hidden to the public so far. This can now change thanks to the ZED 10 3D Foyer”, sums up Dr. Martine Pronk.

The ZED 10 3D Foyer
The Zeutschel ZED 10 3D Foyer makes it possible to virtually rotate objects using gestures, zoom in on details or scroll through books. The software converts 2D scans into three-dimensional books. 3D scans of sculptures or other objects can also be presented with the software. Libraries, museums and archives make up the target groups for the Zeutschel 3D presentation system. But the software can also used in industry for product presentations. The Zeutschel ZED 10 3D foyer is available now. A 3D Kiosk is being designed as a complete solution for 3D presentation. It has a permanent 3D display, so it can be used without special 3D glasses.

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