Digital Restoration of the Map of Bologna
Vatican City / Madrid, 2012

The project involving the restoration of the landscape fresco in the Sala Bologna, Vatican City, began in April 2011. A team from Factum Arte, consisting of Grégoire Dupond and Gabriel Scarpa, began recording the work by capturing high resolution photographs of the frescos in the room. The recording was done using a Dr. Clauss Panoramic System. The images were then assembled together in specially designed software.

The digital restoration of the West wall took place one year after the recording of the Sala Bologna.
The digital restoration aimed to restore the wall to its original state through virtual, non-invasive, methods; the photos were restored on a computer before being rematerialised.

The project was a collaboration between Factum Arte and the University of Bologna. Francesco Ceccarelli, lecturer at the Univeristy of Bologna's  "Alma Mater Studiorum", gave his support in the form of support documents - such as drawings and contemporary maps. These were very important during the digital restoration of some of the more damaged areas of the fresco.

The digital restoration was conducted in several steps. The first step was the elimination of cracks that covered the entire surface. the second step was the restoration of the cities and villages on the map. During this phase, special attention needed to be paid to the colour and form of the towns. The restorer had to look at both contemporary and modern maps to find and place correctly several points of interest that disappeared over the centuries. In the area representing the city of Bologna, the restorer noticed a large missing part. After thorough research, the restorer realised that the area coincided perfectly with the location of the Basilica of San Petronio and she re-introduced the church onto the map. In this instance and several more, the addition was highlighted with chromatic code. The third and final step was the restoration of the general landscape of the map.

The deteriorating condition of the walls left a lot of room for interpretation, but in general the restoration was accurate and faithful to the original. Following the digital restoration, it is now possible to have an idea of how the fresco would have looked at the time of its creation. This was achieved without ever having to come into contact with the original, demonstrating an exciting new approach to restoring cultural heritage.

This animation shows a preview of the digital restoration on a damaged area of the map that shows the surroundings of the city of Bologna.

Visit the Facsimile of the Sala Bologna

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Recording at Sala Bologna, Vatican City


Setup simulation of recording session in Sala Bologna


Digital restoration


Parallel and panoramic colour recording


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