The Metropolitan Museum of Art partnered with Hasselblad and DJI for a special inspection project this fall. The condition of the limestone blocks that make up the 12th-century Fuentidueña Apse at The Met Cloisters had to be inspected. The Met Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is located at the very Northern tip of Manhattan just off the Hudson River.

DJI Mavic Pro

Drone inspection at The Met Cloisters

Established in 1938 The Met Cloisters is home to more than 2,000 works of art and architecture. One of the Museum’s most impressive rooms is the 12th-century Fuentidueña Apse. In the 1950s this part of the museum was relocated from Spain and rebuild here in Manhattan brick by brick.

James Barron writes for the NY Times [paywall]:

“The object is the Fuentidueña apse, a soaring, handsomely proportioned structure that once held the altar of a 12th-century chapel in Spain. The apse was packed up, piece by piece, and delivered to the Cloisters in Northern Manhattan in the 1950s — the chapel was in ruins by then, having been all but abandoned in the Renaissance, but the apse had survived. Once the friezes and frescoes and elegant columns had been taken down and the stone walls taken apart, it filled more than 800 shipping crates.”

It is important for the conservation of the apse to inspect the condition of the 3,300 Limestone blocks that were used to build it. In order to efficiently document the exterior, the Met collaborated with Hasselblad and DJI.

Hasselblad camera and a DJI drone

For this project, the team used the Hasselblad h6d-100 C and the DJI Matrice 600 PRO drone which allowed them to capture 100-megapixel images of each section of the structure. The images will be used by conservators to monitor changes over time. The last time photos were taken for inspection purposes of this building was in the 1990’s.

Lucretia G. Kargère, the senior conservator at the Cloisters said that compared to other works of art the museum conserves, the apse “Is a different type of artwork because it’s exhibited outside. Various experts have tried over the years to form “a diagnosis of the weathering damage of the stone,” she said. “We’ve been following this stone like a patient,” she said to the NYT. The main reason for concern is that the apse is made with two different sots of limestone, one of which is extremely porous.

High-resolution medium format images

These high-resolution medium format images are critical to creating a visual record of the apse assisting conservators in their important work. This workflow simplifies the capture process immensely. Reviewing the surface required weeks of painstaking work. Using a camera and drone, the team was able to get your high-quality results in one day. Merging the quality of Hasselblad medium format cameras in DJI drones allows for greater steps to be made in the fields of preservation and conservation. This is the first time The Met has employed drone technology for this purpose.

The NYT recently had a very nice piece about this project. If you’re interested, be sure to read it here [paywall].

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