Guest Story Westwork and Civitas Corvey

Guest Story: From fragments to digital reconstruction

by CultArm3D

Digitizing a discovery that was hiding right below the surface.

In 1992 an interesting discovery was made at the Westwerk Corvey. The renowned Corvey scientist Professor Dr. Hilde Claussen found sinopies on the masonry in the main hall of the Johanneschoir. 30 years ago stucco pieces were found in a floor renovation. When she matched those stucco pieces with the sinopies on the masonry, the sensation was perfect. The goal became to document the UNESCO world heritage site in a meaningful and timeless manner for generations to come.

Behind the Scenes:

The restorer handles the object with care and inert gloves to guarantee the integrity of the sensitive surface materials

The objects and their safety

The LWL (Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe and the Welterbe Westwerk Corvey teamed up in this project to ensure highest care for the precious objects. 35 fragments were shipped from the LWL depot to Fraunhofer Institute in Darmstadt for 3D-digitization. The fragments vary in size up to 35 centimeters and belong to six figures that had been broken apart in the 12th century.

The fragments are of cultural significance, fragile and had sensitive paint on the surface that neededs to be preserved. To digitize and handle the pieces restorer Florian Westphal from the LWL-Archeology made sure that the entire process was safe. From unpacking, positioning and re-positioning to packing, he planned a specific procedure to ensure the safety of the objects. Inert gloves were worn the entire time to impede fats and acids on the human skin from reacting with surface materials.

Digitizing stucco

The sensitive objects were carefully positioned on the turntable, ideally in their original position; on the turntable. Different stands and soft bags were molded to the object’s geometry to hold it in a stable position. Between the stands and the objects, a soft cotton layer was used for protection. This layer would also increase the contrast to the bright stucco pieces to ease capture via photogrammetry. 

Once the pieces were positioned by the conservator, the digitization process was straight forward. The intelligent viewplanning creates an optimal sequence of capture poses. The objects were digitized with 400-800 pictures per object depending on size. Scanning an object took between one and two hours. The rare and precious colors were faithfully captured.


The specialised robot executes autonomously to enable cultural heritage institutions with a cost efficient and high quality solution to digitize their collections.

Results of the project

Annika Pröbe, a scientific associate at the Carolingian Westwerk, was impressed with the scans: “They are so fine and precise that one can see the smallest color residues or markings from the crafting process.” By now the objects have safely returned to the depot and Annika Pröbe thanked the project partners. “Everything worked out wonderfully.” 

With the digitization done by the CultArm3D, now the Fraunhofer IGD department for Virtual & Augmented Reality takes over, displaying the results in the highest possible quality. The department will create an immersive, photorealistic Augmented Reality User Experience that allows visitors to freely explore the heritage site. 

Visualisation of a digitization result

From the collection of the Unesco World Heritage site Westwerk Corvey

Fraunhofer IGD

Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD

Fraunhoferstrasse 5
64283 Darmstadt

Phone: +49 6151 155475
Fax: +49 6151 155 139


Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research


“Digitization made easy “