Thanks to the laser mapping of CyArk, a non-profit group that works to digitally preserve cultural heritage sites around the world, you can now appreciate the three dimensions of Mount Rushmore National Memorial via your computer.
The organization, which already has done similar mapping at Mesa Verde National Park and Fort Laramie National Historic Site, this week launche a presentation that shows 3D models of Mount Rushmore created through an innovative laser scanning process.
The digital portal features an array of rich multimedia material including an interactive virtual tour of the Memorial, navigable and measurable 3D “point cloud” models comprised of the billions of points collected by the laser scanners, and a large collection of historic photographs.
“With this innovative web portal, internet users around the world will be able to remotely access the Memorial, whether it is to plan a visit or to virtually explore unusual areas such as the Hall of Records,” said Superintendent Cheryl Schreier.
In May 2010, the National Park Service collaborated with the Kacyra Family Foundation and CyArk and the Center for Digital Documentation and Visualisation, a partnership between Historic Scotland and the Glasgow School of Art. The laser scanning project also owes its success to important contributions from Respec Engineering, and Wyss and Associates, who worked to develop a geo-referenced control network that was used to tie all the laser scan data together.
“It is an honor for our organization to digitally preserve such an important monument to the American spirit for generations to come," said CyArk founder Ben Kacyra. "The CyArk website gives free access to users across the globe, allowing them to experience Mount Rushmore alongside other culturally significant world heritage sites.”
A variety of sites at Mount Rushmore National Memorial were laser scanned and photographed to capture the Memorial and create a highly accurate digital model. The resulting information was used in the development of media for physical preservation work, education and virtual visits.
Check out a video animation that shows how CyArk's crew pieced together more than 200 laser scans to map the presidents' profiles and then create a digital profile of the memorial (just be patient as it buffers):
Traveler footnote: To access the free site, you'll need to complete a registration process.